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Sick leave and sickness allowance
Employees can accumulate paid sickness days after having been employed under continuous contracts. Paid sickness days are accumulated at the rate of two paid sickness days for each completed month of employment during the first 12 months of employment, and four paid sickness days for each completed month of employment thereafter. Paid sickness days can be accumulated up to a maximum of 120 days.
A sickness day is a day on which an employee is absent from work by reason of being unfit due to injury or sickness. A paid sickness day is a sickness day on which an employee is entitled to be paid sickness allowance.
Sickness allowance is a sum equivalent to four-fifths of the normal wages that employees would have earned if they had worked.
In general, employees are entitled to sickness allowance if:
- the sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days (unless for any day off taken by a female employee for pregnancy check-ups, post confinement medical treatment or miscarriage);
- the sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate; and
- they have accumulated sufficient number of paid sickness days. (Note: Paid sickness days can be accumulated up to a maximum of 120 days. It is accumulated at the rate of 2 paid sickness days for each completed month of employment under a continuous contract during the first 12 months of employment, and 4 paid sickness days per month thereafter.)
Employees are NOT be entitled to sickness allowance under the following circumstances:
- the employee, without reasonable excuse, refuses treatment by a company doctor of a medical scheme that is recognised by the Director of Health or disregards the advice of that doctor;
- the sickness day falls on a statutory holiday on which the employee is entitled to holiday pay; or
- compensation is payable under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.
Employers who fail to pay sickness allowance to employees are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.
Employers are prohibited from terminating contracts of employment of employees during paid sickness leave, except in cases of summary dismissal due to serious misconduct.
Employers who contravene the above provision are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $100,000. Employers are also required to pay the following sum of money to dismissed employees within seven days after the day of termination:
- wages in lieu of notice;
- a further sum equivalent to seven days’ wages; and
- any sickness allowance to which the employee is entitled.