Typhoons and disasters: What HR needs to remember

Non-compliance may lead to prosecution, warns Hong Kong Labour Department

Typhoons and disasters: What HR needs to remember

Workplaces across various parts of Asia are no stranger to typhoons — and employers are reminded that they have the responsibility of keeping their employees away from harm at times of disaster.

In a recent reminder, the Hong Kong Labour Department (LD) outlined several ways employers can make it better for staff amid typhoons. 

"For staff who have practical difficulties in resuming work on time upon the cancellation of a tropical cyclone or rainstorm warning, employers should give due consideration to the situations of individual employees and handle each case flexibly," said a spokesperson from LD in a statement. 

"For example, employers may permit employees who have difficulties in returning to workplaces to work from home or allow more time for them to report for duty and resume work," the spokesperson added.

Employers are also reminded of their obligations and responsibilities under the Employment Ordinance, the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance, the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, and the Minimum Wage Ordinance.

"As typhoons and rainstorms are natural occurrences that cannot be avoided, for employees who are not able to report for duty or resume work on time due to adverse weather conditions, employers should not withhold their wages, good attendance bonuses or allowances without reasons," said the LD spokesperson.

"Employers should enquire into the reasons and give due consideration to the exceptional circumstances in each case and should not penalise or dismiss the employee concerned rashly."

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For annual leave, statutory holidays, or rest days, according to the spokesperson, employers should not use them to compensate for an employees' lost working hours if they fail to report to work due to typhoons.

Those who fail to comply to their responsibilities as an employer may be liable for prosecution, warned the LD.

As an additional resource, the LD published the "Code of Practice in Times of Typhoons and Rainstorms," which is a guide for employers on work and resumption of work arrangements at times of typhoons.

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