Everyone will get sick from time to time like catching a cold, getting a fever, coughing or something big enough to be hospitalised. HR professionals often face questions such as: Can employees apply for sick leave? Should they get paid for taking sick leave? How much to pay for taking sick leave? Handled improperly, employers may face breaking Hong Kong local labor laws. This article offers some tips to help you comply with HK labor ordinance.
Q1: Can employees apply for sick leave?
According to the Employment Ordinance in HK, sick leave consists of no-pay sick leave and paid sick leave.
For no-pay sick leave, employees can apply for it when it’s necessary.
For paid sick leave, employees who need to apply for should meet following conditions:
- Under a continuous contract
- The sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days
- The sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate
- The employee has accumulated sufficient number of paid sickness days
Q2: What is Sick Leave Allowance?
Sickness allowance refers to the employee’s living allowance during illness treatment. The daily amount of sickness allowance is equal to four-fifths of the average daily wages (ADW) of the preceding 12 months (if the number of sick days is more than one consecutive day). If the employee’s employment period is less than 12 months, the shorter period will be adopted for calculation.
Q3: How can employees be entitled to sick leave allowance?
Employees who have been employed under a continuous contract for one month or more before the sickness day, sick leave allowance must be paid by their employer under the following conditions:
- The sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days;
- A proper medical certificate is provided;
- A sufficient number of paid sickness days of the employee are accumulated.
Q4: How is the number of days entitled to sickness allowance calculated?
Paid sickness days can be accumulated after having been employed under a continuous contract. The entitlements would be given as follows:
- The employee can have 2 paid sick leave days for every completed month of employment during the initial 12 months, and;
- Four paid sick leave days for every completed month of employment thereafter, and paid sickness holidays can be accumulated from time to time, up to a maximum of 120 days.
- Employees who have less than four consecutive days of sick leave are not entitled to receive a sickness allowance.
On the other hand, in cases where an employee apply for sick leave fewer than four days, the employer has the right not to pay salary and deduct work rewards. If a pregnant employee is absent from work due to antenatal check-ups, postnatal treatment, or miscarriage – for these cases, each day of sick leave is entitled to sickness allowance, and not constrained by the conditions of 4 consecutive days.
In other words, many companies allow employees to take less than four days of sick leave and are paid as usual. This kind of policy has actually exceeded the minimum benefits mandated by the relevant laws.
Under the following circumstances, employees will not receive sick leave allowance:
- If the employer has adopted a medical plan approved by the Department of Health, but the employee refuses to accept the treatment provided by particular doctors under the medical scheme or does not follow the doctor’s guidance without a reasonable explanation;
- Sick leave falls on a statutory holiday, and employees are entitled to be paid for that holiday;
- Employees who are compensated due to work injury according to the “Employee Compensation Regulations.”
Workstem can automatically calculate the accumulated paid sick leave allowance for each employee based on the date of employment, which is the best solution for HR managers to quickly and accurately determine whether the employees are entitled to sickness allowance on this leave. Check out our other core functions and we welcome you to use our 14-days free trial on our website!
(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.)