What are our obligations when an employee is sick, or under government-ordered quarantine?
If employees are issued with a medical certificate (either after having tested positive or having been placed “under medical surveillance”), they should be treated as being on sick leave. They should receive sickness allowance in accordance with/subject to the eligibility requirements set out in the Employment Ordinance (80% of the employee’s daily average wage and subject to other eligibility requirements) and/or the terms of their employment contract/company policy.
If they are not issued with a medical certificate, they should generally continue to be paid their normal wages in full. Although this is not expressly provided for under Hong Kong law, the Labour Department is encouraging employers to show compassion and flexibility. If the employees are not sick and are otherwise ready and willing to work, it would be prudent to continue to pay wages during the quarantine period. Home working should be considered where possible.
Please note that an employer is prohibited from terminating the contract of employment of an employee on his paid sickness day, except in cases of summary dismissal due to the employee’s serious misconduct. An employer who contravenes the above provision is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of HK$100,000.