A Hong Kong catering group best known for its banquet service, U-banquet, offered HK$1000 to employees who got vaccinated as a reward in late March, sparking heated debate online recently.
The average salary of a full-time front-of-house restaurant staff in Hong Kong ranges from HK$10,000 to 20,000 per month.
According to the chairman and CEO of the group, Cheung Ka Ho, he hoped the cash incentive could encourage more workers to get vaccinated. In fact, the majority of the company's employees (90%) have already been vaccinated or made a reservation or plan to get vaccinated. Only 10% remains undecided.
In another internal memo issued by the HR department on 14 April, the group's manager requested employees to get their first Covid-19 jab and text their vaccination record to human resources via WhatsApp before 26 April. Otherwise, employees will be "suspended from work", starting 29 April.
Those who obtain a doctor's certificate indicating that vaccination is not suitable based on their health can skip this round for now. The group will determine whether these employees can be exempted from vaccination when the government releases more information.
The group explained that industries and businesses of all types and sizes in Hong Kong have been "hit very hard by the social event in June 2019" and the Covid-19 outbreak.
"This cascade of events has lasted over 22 months, and the group has been facing tremendous operational difficulties," the group wrote.
"Therefore, we can't help but strictly follow the government's social distancing guidelines and make the government's latest vaccination suggestion mandatory," it continued.
According to the Employment Ordinance, it could be considered as a layoff if an employer asks employees to be suspended from work for half of the time in four weeks without paying them. Employees can sue the employer for compensation.
Cheung clarified to RTHK that the phrase in the memo "suspension from work" did not deliver the right message. They are considering arrangements such as requesting them to work in the same area or relocating them to duties that do not require regular interactions with customers.
He reassured that the group will not use any method to threaten or force employees to get vaccinated and will make an appropriate arrangement for employees who decide not to get vaccinated.
Photo/ U banquet