Allow Flexible Work Amidst Omicron Surge

HK Gov’t Tells Firms To Allow Flexible Work Amidst Omicron Surge

HONG KONG – The local authorities have called on employers to permit flexible work arrangements for their staff in accordance with their operational requirements, according to a press release issued by the city’s government on Thursday afternoon (13 January, SGT).

Hong Kong’s government also asked companies and businesses to consider not requiring staff to return to their workplace, but to work from home (WFH) where practicable, amidst the latest spike in people getting infected with COVID-19 and the strain it is putting on the authorities’ isolation facilities.

“This will help maintain good labour-management relations and reduce the risk of spreading the disease. In the meantime, employers should review the work arrangements, taking into account the latest situation,” said the local authorities in the press release.

Aside from that, Hong Kong’s government is urging employers to be compassionate and show understanding to staff who are facing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and be accommodating to them as far as practicable.

“For example, employers are urged to adopt a more lenient and flexible approach in dealing with leave applications from employees who need to take care of schoolchildren and toddlers at home during the suspension of face-to-face classes of primary schools, kindergartens and child care centres, or to consider arranging for those employees to work from home where circumstances permit.”

“The government also encourages employers to maintain good communication on work arrangements with employees who are subject to compulsory quarantine or compulsory testing requirements, including granting them paid leave, or where practicable allowing them to work from locations other than workplaces,” it added.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that there was no need to introduce policies requiring companies to let their staff telecommute, as each firm can make its own decision.

She added that after 2 years (of combating the COVID-19 pandemic), businesses, particularly large firms, have already developed internal policies. She also hopes that companies will not wait for government orders before implementing WFH arrangements.

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