While some employers would grant leave to employees without a certificate, the “Employment Ordinance” clearly states that an employee must have a sick leave certificate to apply for sick leave. But does this mean the employee will receive sickness allowance as well?
The answer is uncertain.
According to the “Employment Ordinance”, an employee employed under a continuous contract is entitled to sickness allowance if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- the sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days (unless for any day off taken by a female employee for her pregnancy check-ups, post confinement medical treatment or miscarriage)
- the sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate
- the employee has accumulated sufficient number of paid sickness days
If the employee is eligible for paid sick leave, sickness allowance should be paid to the employee not later than the normal pay day and shouldn’t be deducted from the total number of paid sickness days accumulated by the employee.
⚠️ An employer who without reasonable excuse fails to pay sickness allowance to an employee is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of HK$50,000.
How does paid sick leave accumulate?
An employee can accumulate paid sickness days after having been employed under a continuous contract. Paid sickness days are accumulated at the rate of two paid sickness days for each completed month of the employee’s employment during the first 12 months, and four paid sickness days for each completed month of employment thereafter.
Paid sickness days can be accumulated throughout the whole employment period, but shall not exceed 120 days at any one time.
What is the difference between paid sick leave under the “Employment Ordinance” and the ones given by enterprises?
Paid sick leave in the “Employment Ordinance” means that employees should have a sick leave certificate and the daily rate of sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the preceding 12-month period.
Sick leave of less than 4 days is not among the paid leave mandated by the “Employment Ordinance”. Even with a sick leave certificate, it is not illegal for an employer to not pay sickness allowance. However, some companies usually give employees 1-2 days of paid sick leave per month as a benefit, and employee’s salary won’t be deducted.
In addition, a sick leave certificate is crucial in keeping track of the working days of an employee. Therefore, the company must keep the employee’s sick leave certificate for the sake of smooth payroll.
It is best to utilise a human resources management system that can calculate the cumulative number of paid sick days, average daily wages and support leave application submissions and upload.