The first thing you should do if you get sick or suffer from personal injury during your employment is to promptly inform your employer. There are two reasons why it is important: first, so you can be exempted from work during the sickness, and, second, so you can see a doctor, take sick leave, and have the medical cost covered by your employer. Top
Generally speaking, your employer is allowed to deduct your salary if you do not perform work due to sickness. However, you are entitled to sickness allowance if you meet the following criteria:
- You have been sick for not less than four days consecutively;
- You provide the employer with a medical certificate confirming that you need sick leave for not less than four days; and
- You have accumulated sufficient number of paid sick leave. Workers who have worked for their employers for less than 12 months are entitled to two paid sick leave each month. Those who have worked for more than 12 months are entitled to four paid sick leave each month. The number of paid sick leave can be accumulated up to 120 days.
The rate of sickness allowance is 80% of the wage.
You are not obliged to work during your sick leave. In the case where your employer asks you to work while you are sick, you should politely tell them that you are not fit for work. There is no obligation for the employer to substitute your sick leave – either with payment or with a day off – if you perform work during your sick leave. Top
The Standard Employment Contract clearly establishes that your employer has the obligation to cover your medical expenses if you are sick. This includes the cost of purchasing medicine. If you need to see a doctor, your employer has to appoint a doctor, a clinic, or a hospital to which you should go. The obligation of your employer to cover the cost of your medical treatment applies regardless the sickness is caused by your employment or not. Your employer is exempted from such obligation, however, if you get sick or injured during the period when you are outside Hong Kong for personal purposes. Top
There have been examples where the employer refuses to cover the cost of the worker’s medical treatment. The reasons vary, but one of the excuses commonly used is that the illness you are suffering from is not covered by the insurance. Please note that this is not a valid reason and that the employer is still obliged to cover your medical expenses, even if your insurance does not cover the particular sickness you are suffering from.
If you are sick but your employer refuses to cover the cost of your medical treatment, it is important that you still go to the doctor or the hospital. For more affordable medical treatment, visit Hong Kong public hospitals and do not forget to bring your HKID. Click here for list of public hospitals in Hong Kong and their addresses.
Remember that there are two important documents that you should ask from the doctor or the hospital. The first document is the medical certificate, usually detailing the diagnosis, the date of your visit to the doctor, and the number of days on which you are recommended to rest. The other document is the receipt, detailing the cost of the medical treatment you have had.
After obtaining the medical certificate and the receipts, do not forget to copy them or to take pictures of the documents. Make sure that the pictures are clear and the details written in the documents are readable.
Once you have the copies of the medical certificate and the receipt, you should give the original copies of such documents to your employer. If she still refuses to cover the cost of your medical treatment, keep the documents with you in a safe place. Such documents will be useful should you wish to file a complaint to the Labour Department at the end of your employment. Top
In the unfortunate event where you get injured or die as a result of an accident ‘arising out and in the course of’ your employment, you or your heir has the right to receive compensation from the employer. Note that you are entitled to such right, regardless the accident:
- Was due to your fault or not;
- Took place in or out of your employer house. Accident which takes place while you are travelling for the purpose of and in connection with your work (for example, while you are going to the market for your employer), shall also be considered as one that ‘arising out and in the course of employment’.
You are not entitled to compensation, however, if:
- The injury does not result in permanent incapacity nor incapacitate you from earning full wages at your normal work;
- The injury was deliberately caused by yourself;
- The death or incapacity was a result of an injury which you did not truthfully tell your employer of; or
- The injury was caused by an accident that happened due to your addiction to drugs, or which happened while you are under alcohol influence, and does not result in death or serious or permanent incapacity.
You or your heir is also entitled to compensation if you are incapacitated or die due to occupational disease, that is, one which was caused by the nature of your employment. There is a list of occupational diseases attached to the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance. Note that there is a requirement of service period to be met, for a disease to be categorised as occupational disease. The period varies, ranging from 1 month to 20 years, depending on the disease.
If you suffer from an injury or occupational disease which makes you not able to work, you have to notify your employer as soon as possible. In the case where you get injured so badly that you cannot move, call the emergency number 999 for ambulance and shout for help from the people around you. Go to the public hospital or any other available doctor for medical examination. At the hospital, clearly inform the doctor that you have been injured at work, so she can confirm the injury to the Labour Department. You should take rest as suggested by the doctor.
Your employer has to inform the Commissioner for Labour, regardless she is liable to provide you with compensation or not. The Labour Department will send you a letter, asking you to provide more information on your injury or sickness. Inform the Labour Department as soon as you have completed your sick leave, so they can arrange an assessment for the compensation for your injury or disease.
For details on how to calculate the compensation, consult the Labour Department’s Concise Guide to the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.
Flowchart on settlement of Employees’ Compensation Claims
Termination of Contract During Illness
Your employer is legally prohibited to terminate your employment contract while you are sick. Under the law, such dismissal is unreasonable and unlawful. She may be prosecuted and – upon conviction – get fined with maximum amount of HKD 100,000. She also has to give you one month wage in lieu of notice, compensation equals to seven days’ wages, and your sickness allowance. You additionally can claim for remedies for unreasonable and unlawful dismissal, which is discussed in more details here.
This prohibition does not apply, however, if you have committed a serious misconduct, or if the doctor certifies that you are no longer fit to perform further work. In the latter case, your employer has to send you back to your place of origin. She also has to give you all your statutory entitlements, such as one month wage in lieu of notice and the payment for untaken annual leave. Top
Help and Contacts
List of organisations