A bill commenced on the 17th of June to allow employees to claim sick leave if they are issued either an isolation order, a quarantine order or an overnight lockdown order. Employees are only required to provide a hard copy or electronic form of document and electronic data issued by the Government and no longer limited to medical certificates.
The Government has taken the next step in making vaccination mandatory. The new bill, part of the Employment Ordinance passed by Members of the Legislative Council, also states that employers will now have a legitimate reason to dismiss their workers if they fail to present a certificate of vaccination, under “incapability to perform work”.
Fair dismissal for failing to provide proof of vaccination requires that employers have already given a written notice notifying employees that such a rule is imposed in the workplace. However, the bill does not specify the format of the notice, opening the door for delivery of the notice through email or another digital medium. The amendment also provides protection of employees. Shold an employee be dismissed while on sick leave for serving a compulsory government notice, the employee(s) in question can apply to be compensated.
The new bill has several implications for the HR management system. Firstly, the HR department needs to take the leading role of keeping the rest of the company informed about the new bill, listing out all the important amendments, and how it applies to the company. Next, they need to clarify whether the company is imposing vaccine mandates in order for employees to be able to work onsite. This clarifies and lets employees know in advance whether they could be dismissed for not complying with the company’s vaccine mandates.
The HR team should also keep their system updated to reflect the new bill. A vaccination record tracker that keeps a database of your employees’ vaccination status and relevant information can be extremely helpful in rostering as you know which employees are available onsite. Having knowledge in advance also helps you plan ahead, for example arranging employees who are not vaccinated to work remotely and having ample time to plan ahead will ensure the transition process is as smooth as possible.
Ultimately, the HR team of every company will have to stay flexible and adaptive in order to stay ahead of the curve and ensure a smooth transition to act in compliance with the new bill.