All employees have their “under the weather” days, both mentally and physically speaking. Whether it’s something as mild as catching a cold or something severe that would make them go to the hospital, employees are entitled to take a sick leave from work to attend to their health.
In this case, it’s the responsibility of HR managers to manage the sick leave requests of their employees. Despite having policies that differ from other companies, HR managers in Hong Kong must nonetheless adhere to local labor laws or risk themselves facing penalties if they handle the regulations improperly.
This blog will tackle some of the frequently asked questions that HR managers may have about sick leave laws in Hong Kong, as well as tips that help them comply with local labor ordinances.
How can employees be entitled to sickness allowance?
According to the Hong Kong’s Employment Ordinance, employees can apply for two types of sick leave: paid and non-paid.
Employees can apply for a non-paid sick leave when it’s necessary. For paid sick leaves, employees must meet the following conditions:
- The employee must be under a continuous contract.
- The planned sick leave must not be less than four consecutive days.
- The planned sick leave must be supported by an appropriate medical certificate.
- The employee must accumulate a sufficient number of paid sickness days.
What is a sick leave allowance?
A sickness allowance is a living allowance given to employees to help with their health treatment. The daily amount of sickness allowance is equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages (ADW) earned by an employee in the 12-month period preceding the sickness day or the first sickness day (if the number of sick days if more than one consecutive day). If an employee has only been with the company for less than 12 months, they will be entitled to a shorter period for the calculation for the sickness allowance.
How is the number of days entitled to sickness allowance calculated?
Employees can accumulate paid sickness days if they are under a continuous contract. They will receive the sick leave entitlements under the following conditions:
- The employee can have two paid sick leave days for every completed month of employment during their initial 12 months in the company.
- The employee can have four paid sick leave days for every completed month of employment thereafter. Paid sickness holidays can be accumulated from time to time up to 120 days.
- The employee cannot be entitled to receive a sickness allowance if they have less than four consecutive days of sick leave.
What happens if an employee applies for a sick leave that is less than four days?
In some cases, employers have the right to approve a non-paid sick leave and deduct work rewards when employees take a sick leave for less than four days. Employees will not receive a sickness allowance under the following circumstances:
- The employee refuses to accept the treatment provided by particular doctors under the Department of Health-approved medical plan of their employer or rejects the doctors’ guidance without a reasonable explanation.
- The sick leave falls on a statutory holiday and the employee is entitled to be paid for that day.
- The employee is compensated due to work injury according to theEmployees’ Compensation Ordinance of Hong Kong.
However, there are exceptions to this case. If a pregnant employee is absent from work due to antenatal check-ups, postnatal treatment or miscarriage, they are entitled to a sickness allowance for each day of sick leave, even if they do not meet the conditions of the four consecutive day rule.
There are also many companies today that allow employees to take less than four days of sick leave and pay them as usual. This kind of policy has actually exceeded the minimum benefits mandated by relevant labor laws in Hong Kong.
Managing both paid and non-paid sick leaves and sickness allowance can get quite confusing to both HR managers and employees. Luckily, HR managers can adopt and utilize Workstem’s leave management system to automatically calculate the accumulated paid sickness allowance for their employees on the date of employment. The solution can also help HR managers quickly and accurately determine whether employees are entitled to sickness allowance when they apply for a sick leave. Workstem also offers a 14-day free trial for HR managers and business leaders who want to dip their toes in the world of HR technology.
Keeping the above points in mind will help HR managers better manage and organize the leave requests of their employees. With Workstem’s technology as well, HR managers will have more time to attend to other pressing matters in their organization.