Do Employees Have Paid Sick Leave During Probation?

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still some uncertainty as to when employees should file a sick leave. For example, some employees dare not take a sick leave if they’re afraid of a salary deduction. Some are also worried about leaving a bad impression if they immediately ask for a sick leave after only being at the company for a short time. Yet the fact is that illness is inevitable and there’s no getting around the fact that a healthy body is needed not just for work, but for the rest of your life as well.

But what about if you’re on probation? Are employees still entitled to paid sick leaves despite being on probation? 

According to Hong Kong’s Employment Ordinance, during the first year of employment employees get two paid sickness days for each month employed. Afterwards, the rate bumps up to four paid sickness days for each month employed. Paid sickness days can be accumulated through the whole employment period, but will never exceed 120 days at a time. 

Still, employees must see a doctor whenever they are sick—whether they’re on probation or not. The company is then obliged to pay sickness allowance when the employee has fulfilled the following conditions:

  • the employee has been employed continuously by the same employer for at least four weeks, with at least 18 hours worked each week
  • the sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days and is supported by an appropriate medical certificate 
  • the employee has accumulated the sufficient number of paid sickness days (referring back to the Employment Ordinance)

The answer then is that as long as one has met the conditions above, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be entitled to a paid sick leave.

The daily rate of sickness allowance is equal to four-fifths of the average daily wages(ADW) earned by the employee in the 12-month period mentioned above.

Of course, many companies choose to go above and beyond what is mandated by the Employment Ordinance(EO), choosing to offer a few extra days of paid sick leave every month. In the case of these extra leaves, it’s wholly up to the company to decide how to distribute them to employees and whether they can apply during a probation period.

However, there is a scenario where employers are not obliged to pay their employees. This is when the sick leave taken is less than four consecutive days and is supported by an appropriate medical certificate while the employee is still under probation. Under these circumstances, whether an employee is compensated for their sick leave is entirely up to the company policy.

What’s always important however is that companies track employee attendance in order to determine whether they’re eligible for paid sick leaves. While this can be a confusing and mundane task, the good news is Workstem’s leave management function is an easy-to-use software that can not only calculate the accumulated paid sick leave days but also record the leave details. Additionally, the system can accurately calculate the ADW of employees and different types of leave wages then automatically generate leave balance and payroll statements.

With solutions like Workstem’s leave management function around, businesses can rest easy knowing they’ve taken care of their employees while also allowing more room to focus on business growth. In this respect, businesses would be killing two birds with one stone. 

(The article on this website is intended to be for reference and general information purposes only. Workstem does not warrant or represent that such information is complete, accurate or up to date. It should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of law or court practice, or a substitute for professional legal advice.)

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