How Hong Kong employers should make advance work arrangements in ‘extreme conditions’

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The Hong Kong Observatory will consider issuing gale or storm signal No. 8 between noon and 2 p.m.

Under the combined effect of Nalgae and the northeast monsoon, Strong Wind Signal No. 3 will remain in effect before noon in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Observatory consider issuing gale or storm signal No. 8 between 12:00 and 14:00.

The Department of Labor (LD) reminded employers to make pre-arrangements for the work of staff, including arrangements for return to work, release from work, resumption of work and working from home (if applicable). These arrangements can not only ensure the safety of employees and the proper functioning of establishments, but also promote the maintenance of good employer-union relations.

“In developing and implementing work arrangements and contingencies for periods during and after tropical cyclone and rainstorm warnings, employers should pay particular attention to worker safety. employees and the ability of employees to travel to and from their place of work.

Employers should also take into account as much as possible the different situations faced by employees, such as where they live and nearby road and traffic conditions, and adopt a caring and flexible approach with due regard to their difficulties and needs. real. “said an LD spokesperson.

“To avoid misunderstandings, disputes and confusion, employers should establish working arrangements in consultation with employees and make appropriate updates or changes based on the experience of each occasion and the needs of employers and employees, as well as real situations.”

The working arrangements should cover the following matters:

  • Arrangements for reporting to work;
  • Provisions relating to early release from work;
  • Provisions relating to the return to work (for example, the number of hours in which employees must return to work after the cancellation of the relevant warning, and when safety and traffic conditions allow it);
  • Arrangements for working from home (e.g. terms of service and work during and after tropical cyclone and rainstorm warnings);
  • Arrangements regarding working hours, wages and allowances (e.g. calculation of wages and allowances with respect to work and absence relationships); and
  • Special arrangements for essential personnel in the event of inclement weather.

LD reminded employers that they should also:

  • Make a timely and realistic assessment of the need to require essential personnel to report for work at workplaces when a tropical cyclone or rainstorm warning is in effect;
  • Consider employee safety, including the ability for employees to travel to and from work or work from home in inclement weather when assessing essential staffing needs;
  • Requiring only absolutely essential personnel to report for work at the job site during inclement weather or when post-super typhoon “extreme conditions” exist taking into account the nature of the business, operational needs and l urgency of service, taking due account of manpower requirements, staffing and individual employee circumstances;
  • Keep the number of essential personnel in the workplace to a minimum;
  • Release employees from staged work or have them work from home as soon as possible when a Pre-No. 8 A special announcement is issued during working hours indicating further worsening of weather conditions;
  • These employees should be given priority for leaving:
    • Employees who have mobility issues (for example, pregnant employees or people with disabilities),
    • Employees who rely on transportation services that may be affected by inclement weather (for example, ferry services) to get to and from work, and
    • Those who work or live in remote areas (e.g. outer islands).

“In special situations, if it is necessary for employees to report for work at workplaces in adverse weather conditions, employers should discuss with them in advance the terms of service and emergency measures If public transportation services are suspended or restricted when the Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal is not .8 (T8) or higher is in effect, employers should provide safe transportation services for traveling employees. to and from workplaces, or grant them an additional travel allowance,” the spokesperson said.

“As typhoons and rainstorms are natural occurrences that cannot be avoided, for employees who are unable to report to work or return to work on time due to adverse weather conditions, employers will not shall not withhold their wages, good attendance bonuses or allowances without reason. Employers should inquire into the reasons and give due consideration to the exceptional circumstances of each case and should not penalize or dismiss the employee concerned unreasonably.”

Employers must comply with legal responsibilities and requirements under the Employment Ordinancethe Occupational Safety and Health Ordinancethe Ordinance on Factories and Industrial Enterprisesthe Employees Compensation Ordinance and the Minimum wage ordinance. Employers should also note that they have an obligation to provide and maintain a safe working environment for their employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance.

“While employees are required to work during typhoons and thunderstorms, employers should ensure workplace risks are reduced as much as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Under the Employees Compensation Ordinance, employers are required to pay compensation in the event of death or injury occurring when employees are traveling by a direct route from their home to their place of work, or from their work at their home after work, four hours before or after work hours of a day when T8 or greater or a red or black rain storm warning signal is in effect, or during the period (including any extended period) during which “extreme conditions” resulting from a super typhoon or other natural disaster of substantial magnitude exist as specified in an “extreme conditions” announcement.

For the main principles, the framework, the reference guidelines and information on the relevant work accommodation legislation, employers can refer to the “Code of practice in times of typhoons and torrential rains” edited by the LD.


Image / Unsplash

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