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Prior work arrangements urged for rainstorms and typhoons

     The Labour Department has reminded employers to make prior work arrangements for staff in times of typhoons and rainstorms as soon as possible.

     "To avoid disputes and confusion, employers should make prior work arrangements for staff and contingency measures in times of typhoons or rainstorms," a Labour Department spokesman said.

     "In working out and enforcing the arrangements, employers should give prime consideration to employees' safety both in the workplace and during their journeys to and from work, and adopt a flexible approach. Whenever possible, they should consult their staff."

     The work arrangements should cover the following matters:

* Whether employees are required to report for duty when different typhoon signals or rainstorm warnings are issued;

* When a typhoon signal or rainstorm warning is issued during working hours, whether employees will be released from work and, if so, the arrangements;

* After a typhoon signal or rainstorm warning is cancelled, the time for staff who have not reported for duty to resume work and the arrangements;

* How wages, working hours and allowances (if any) will be calculated for staff who are required to report for duty and those who are late for work or absent from work during typhoons or rainstorms; and

* For employees who are required to report for duty during typhoons or rainstorms, whether transport facilities will be provided to them and, if so, the arrangements.

     "Employers should also make realistic assessments concerning the requirements for essential staff and generally require only absolutely essential staff to report for duty in adverse weather conditions. When weather conditions continue to worsen and public transport service is to be suspended shortly, employers should seriously consider releasing their staff as soon as practicable.

     "When a Pre-No. 8 Special Announcement is issued during working hours, staff who may face greater hardships in travelling (including pregnant or physically handicapped employees, those who rely on certain transport services which are prone to be affected by adverse weather conditions, such as ferry services, or those who live in remote areas) should be allowed to leave first as soon as practicable. Other employees should be released later in stages according to their travelling distance or the time required to return home.

     "If at all possible, employers should provide transport services for employees who are required to report for duty when a Typhoon Warning Signal No. 8 or above or Black Rainstorm Warning is in force, or give them a special travelling allowance as encouragement.

     "For staff who have practical difficulties in resuming work promptly upon cancellation of a typhoon or rainstorm warning, employers should be sympathetic and handle each case flexibly.

     "As typhoons and rainstorms are natural calamities that cannot be avoided, employers should not deduct wages of employees who are absent from or late for work because of inclement weather. Neither should employers dismiss an employee based on these grounds," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman also reminded employers to observe the statutory liabilities and requirements under the Employment Ordinance, the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and the Employees' Compensation Ordinance.

     An employer should grant employees annual leave, statutory holidays and rest days pursuant to the Employment Ordinance. An employer who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with relevant provisions under the Employment Ordinance is liable to prosecution. Employers should not reduce entitlement of employees to compensate for the loss of working hours resulting from the issue of a typhoon signal or the announcement of a rainstorm warning.

     Employers should also note that they have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace for their employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance.

     "If employees are required to work in times of typhoons or rainstorms, employers should ensure that the risks at work are properly controlled and reduced as far as reasonably practicable," the spokesman said.

     Under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, employers are liable to pay compensation for deaths or injuries incurred when employees are travelling by a direct route from their residences to workplaces, or from workplaces back to residences after work, four hours before or after working hours on a day when Typhoon Signal No. 8 or above or a Red or Black Rainstorm Warning is in force.

     To provide practical guidelines and samples of work arrangements for the reference of employers and employees, the Labour Department has issued a booklet, "Code of Practice in Times of Typhoons and Rainstorms". The booklet can be obtained from the branch offices of the Labour Relations Division or downloaded from the department's webpage (

     Whenever a Black Rainstorm Warning is issued between 6am and 9am, the department will remind employers through the electronic media that for safety's sake, they should not require employees to report for work unless a prior agreement to the contrary has been made.

     For further information, employers and employees may call 2717 1771 (handled by the 1823 Call Centre) or approach the branch offices of the Labour Relations Division.

Ends/Monday, July 25, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:29


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