Covid-19 has placed immense pressure on businesses and fundamentally changed the way we work. A range of new issues, challenges and obligations have arisen from an employment law perspective. How can employers and employees navigate this fast-changing landscape?
The rise in Covid-19 cases has left many employers in Hong Kong contemplating whether they can lawfully require their employees to undergo testing for Covid-19. In times like these, employers find themselves trying to balance their business interests and continuity on one hand, with employees’ concerns and sensitivities on the other. In this article we discuss factors that employers should consider when requesting or directing employees to undergo Covid-19 testing.
Remote working arrangements have become prevalent in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic such as risk of infections, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Many employers are also considering remote working as ‘the new normal’ given the reduced operational costs. For some employees, remote working may mean working overseas. In this article, we discuss the legal implications that employers in Hong Kong should have regard to before allowing their employees to work overseas.
The Hong Kong government has commenced implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination programme intended to cover all Hong Kong residents across the territory. Vaccinations are offered free of charge with the stated aim of safeguarding public health and helping to allow further easing of restrictions and a gradual return to normal life and activities. At this stage, the rollout is prioritising vaccination of individuals within vulnerable and high-risk groups, such as the elderly and healthcare workers, but should extend to all groups during the course of this year.
Every year before long holidays i.e. Christmas, Easter and Summer, family law practitioners would often be busy dealing with their clients’ applications for temporary removal of children out of Hong Kong for their holiday travel. 2020 has been very different. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and with the lockdown and travel restrictions around the world, we have not seen the typical “seasonal” element to temporary removal applications as holiday travel is no longer a driving force behind these applications.
In light of COVID-19, many employers have been considering ways to reduce their overhead costs. Employees’ wages often account for a large share of the employer’s expenses, consequently, employees are increasingly being asked to vary their employment terms by agreeing to take no pay leave and/or a reduction to their wages. Often these requests are premised as an alternative to redundancy. This article examines the rights of both employers and employees in a relation to a variation of the employment contract.
COVID-19 has created unforeseen challenges to businesses all over the world, resulting in many companies being unable to survive the pandemic. Hong Kong has been no exception. In Hong Kong, according to data published by the Hong Kong Government’s Official Receiver’s Office, in the first seven months of the year, 5219 compulsory bankruptcy petitions and 247 compulsory winding-up petitions were presented, representing 13.7% and 5.1% year-on-year increase respectively. The effect of COVID-19 may yet be fully reflected by these figures.
Upon divorce, the Hong Kong Court has the power to make orders for financial provision between spouses. In making such orders, the Court has a duty to consider various matters which are set out in Section 7(1) of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance, Cap. 192 (“MPPO”) including the parties’ financial resources and all the other relevant circumstances of the case.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen an overwhelming demand worldwide for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes respirators, surgical masks, gloves and face shields. Regrettably, unscrupulous traders never miss an opportunity to capitalise on public fears and concerns. Amid these difficult times, there has been a surge of fraud schemes associated with PPE transactions all around the globe. In Hong Kong, over 1,600 reports of online mask scams were received by the Hong Kong Police between January and March this year, consisting of more than 3,000 individual victims and local companies involving a total of HK$48.2 million. It has also been reported that fraudulent mask schemes totalling US$799 million were uncovered in United States in the last few months, and similar patterns have been observed across the Europe.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Hong Kong Courts were closed for several months and thousands of court hearings were adjourned during this General Adjourned Period (“GAP”). Although the Family Court has now reopened there are social distancing measures in place which mean that hearings are continuing to be adjourned. We expect this to be the ‘new normal’ for some time to come.