(Meeting on 28 July 1998)

Work Arrangement and Wage Payment
in Times of the Black Rainstorm Warning

Occurrences of the Black Rainstorm Warning

The rainstorm warning system was first introduced in June 1992. Since its introduction, a total of six black rainstorm warnings has been issued.

Impracticability of Legislating for Work Arrangements and Wage Payment in Times of the Black Rainstorm Warning

2. The Employment Ordinance does not regulate work arrangements and wage payment in times of the black rainstorm warning. The Administration considers that statutory regulation of work and pay arrangements in times of rainstorms is not practicable because of :-

  1. the diversified nature and requirements of job in different trades and industries;

  2. the need to maintain essential services (e.g. medical care and emergency rescue) and the need for some industries (e.g. hotel) to provide service in adverse weather conditions; and

  3. the difficulty of determining which industries or trades should be covered by legislation and which should not.

Employer's Liability under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance

3.Under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, an employer is liable to pay compensation to the employee if the employee sustains an injury or fatality while travelling between his residence and his work place within 4 hours before or after his working hours when Typhoon Signal No. 8 or above or a Red or Black Rainstorm Warning is issued.

Prior Understanding between Employers and Employees

4. To avoid unnecessary misunderstanding and to forestall unnecessary confusion or dispute, employers are advised to draw up prior work arrangements and contingency measures in times of rainstorms.

5. Depending on the job nature and requirements of individual industry, the work arrangements in times of tropical cyclones and rainstorms should cover four main aspect, namely :-

  1. rules regarding report for duty;
  2. rules regarding release from work;
  3. rules regarding resumption of work; and
  4. wages calculation.

6. It is the responsibility of employers to draw up such arrangements with their employees. It is also good management practice to do so because the absence of such arrangements may cause disruption to business operation and lead to unnecessary misunderstanding between employers and their employees. In drawing up prior work arrangements, the employers are strongly advised to adopt a flexible approach and pay due consideration to employees' safety in workplace as well as their journey to and from work.

Code of Practice in Times of Typhoons and Rainstorms

7. The Labour Department first published a pamphlet on "Arrangement of work when typhoon or rainstorm warning signal is hoisted" in September 1992.

8. This pamphlet was substantially revised in 1994 to become a Code of Practice. The Code of Practice was sent to over 20,000 establishments employing more than 20 employees. It contains much more detailed advice and guidelines on various aspects of work arrangements and contingency measures including rules regarding report for duty, release from work, resumption of work and wages calculation. Sample of rainstorm work arrangements is also contained in the Code.

9. The Code is also widely distributed to the public through major offices of the Labour Department and is on the Labour Department Internet Homepage. It is also regularly revised in the light of experience to ensure that clear and practical guidelines are available to employers and employees. The last revision was made in March 1998 (Annex A).

Promotional Activities of the Labour Department

10. In addition to publishing the Code of Practice, the Labour Department undertakes a wide variety of promotional activities to remind employers of the importance of making proper work arrangements. Activities recently organised include :

  • 14 briefings on the subject organised in first half of 1998 for employers and human resource practitioners.

  • Press releases were issued and radio/TV interviews were conducted in June 1998.

  • Exhibition panels on the subject were displayed in three exhibitions staged at major shopping arcades.

  • The July 1998 issue of the Labour Department's quarterly newsletter "Labour Focus" carries a feature article on the subject (page 6 of Annex B). The newsletter is sent by direct mail to all establishments with 5 or more employees.

Assistance Rendered by the Labour Department to Employers and Employees

11. Apart from comprehensive guidelines on prior work arrangements in times of the black rainstorm signal contained in the above-mentioned Code of Practice, staff of the newly-established Workplace Consultation Promotion Unit of the Labour Department undertakes to offer advice to employers if they need help in drawing up prior work arrangements.

12. For enquiries relating to work and pay arrangements during the black rainstorm warning, employers and employees may call the Labour Department General Enquiries Telephone Service or approach the branch offices of the Labour Relations Service (LRS) for assistance. The LRS offers a free conciliation service to help employers and employees resolve any disputes regarding work or pay arrangements arising from the issuance of black rainstorm warnings.

Labour Department
27 July 1998