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Article exclusively contributed by
the Labour Relations Promotion Unit
of the Labour Department

Should you get sickness allowance during probation?


Andrea is a designer. She started to work for her present employer under a continuous contract on September 1, 2002 and her probation period was to last for six months.

Last Sunday, she sprained her ankle at home and was granted four consecutive days of sick leave by a doctor. When she returned to work, she submitted the sick leave certificate to her supervisor, Martha, to claim sickness allowance. However, Martha told her that she was not entitled to any sickness allowance because she was still on probation. She suggested Andrea to refer to her contract for details. Andrea thus checked her employment contract and found that staff on probation are not entitled to any sickness allowance. Can Andrea claim sickness allowance from her employer?

  • An employee employed under a continuous contract can accumulate paid sickness days after each completed month of service, irrespective of whether he/she is on probation. For the rate of accumulation, please refer to Table 1.
  • Paid sickness days can be accumulated up to a maximum of 120 days.
  • Paid sickness days are divided into two categories. The conditions for taking the paid sickness days in the two categories are slightly different. Please refer to Table 2.
  • An employee shall be entitled to sickness allowance at a sum equivalent to four-fifths of the normal wages if:
    • The sick leave taken is not less than four consecutive days,
    • The sick leave is supported by an appropriate medical certificate,
    • The employee has accumulated the number of paid sickness days to be taken.
  • An employer who fails to pay sickness allowance to an employee is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.

Andrea should be granted sickness allowance for her four days of sick leave. Actually, she has accumulated six paid sickness days (two days for each completed month of service during September to November).

One should note, that any term of an employment contract, which purports to extinguish or reduce any right, benefit or protection conferred upon the employee by the Employment Ordinance shall be void.

Martha should delete the clause, which deprives Andrea of entitlement to sickness allowance during the probation period from her contract as soon as possible.

Table 1

Employment Period
Rate of Accumulation
First 12 months
2 days for each completed month
13 months and thereafter
4 days for each completed month

Table 2

  Total No of days
(out of 120)
Conditions for taking paid sickness day
Category 1 36 Supported by certificate issued by a doctor or dentist
Category 2 84 If paid sick leave taken exceeds the total number of sickness days accumulated in Category 1:
  • Sick leave is supported by a certificate issued by a hospital doctor or dentist
  • A brief record of the examination carried out and the treatment prescribed should be produced upon the request of the employer

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on sickness allowance. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on sickness allowance. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on sickness allowance. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on sickness allowance. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

The above case only serves as an illustration of the provisions of the Employment Ordinance on sickness allowance. The Employment Ordinance, however, remains the sole authority for the provisions explained above and in case of dispute, the final decision rests with the court.

Q & A on sickness allowance
Q1 Can an employer dismiss an employee who is on paid sick leave?
A1 No, except in cases of summary dismissal due to an employee's serious misconduct. Otherwise, it is an offence of which the employer is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of HK$100,000. He is also required to pay the employee -
  • (a) wages in lieu of notice;
  • (b) a further sum equivalent to seven days' wages; and
  • (c) any sickness allowance to which the employee is entitled.

Q2 Can paid sickness days be accumulated?
A2 Yes. Paid sickness days can be accumulated up to a maximum of 120 days. It is accumulated at the rate of two paid sickness days for each completed month of employment under a continuous contract during the first 12 months of employment, and four paid sickness days per month thereafter.

Paid sickness days are divided into two categories - Category 1 being the first 36 days accumulated and Category 2 being the subsequent 84 days.

Q3 How is sickness allowance calculated?
A3 Sickness allowance is equal to four-fifths of the normal wages.


Taken from Career Times 06 December 2002

(Last review date: 23 August 2013)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor.

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