Hong Kong Jockey Club ties COVID-19 jabs to bonuses, evaluations as employees protest

2021.06.12
Hong Kong Jockey Club ties COVID 19 jabs to bonuses evaluations as employees protest

Hong Kong Jockey Club workers have written to management urging them to stop coercing employees to get vaccinated, after some were told that they must be fully vaccinated by the end of August or risk losing their bonuses.

An internal club circular seen by Apple Daily said that employees at administrative and assistant administrative level should get vaccinated by the deadline to set an example and help the club move toward relaxed restrictions on catering and bar services. If the deadline was not met, the circular said, the 2021-22 discretionary bonus would be “significantly affected.”

The circular went on to encourage staff in the membership affairs department to meet the same deadline for vaccination, warning that the next Lunar New Year bonus would be “reduced to zero” if the deadline was not met.

An employee who spoke to Apple Daily said that the Jockey Club had previously required each department to report on vaccination statuses, and this practice had been voluntary. But at least one department head was threatening that employees who do not get vaccinated will not receive bonuses.

There was a concern that other departments would feel compelled to follow suit, the employee said.

The employee emphasized that there are different views on vaccination and whether or not to get vaccinated was an individual choice. Linking bonuses to vaccination status would put psychological pressure on people, the employee said.

In addition, an anonymous letter signed by “a group of Jockey Club employees” claimed that some department heads were considering employees’ vaccination status as part of performance evaluations, a practice that the letter writers described as unreasonable and out of line with the company’s interests.

The letter emphasized that vaccination must be voluntary and appealed to management to stop issuing direct or indirect threats, warnings or punishments to force employees to get vaccinated.

In response, the Jockey Club said that employees getting vaccinated would help ensure smooth operations, which in turn would mean the club could continue to make charitable donations and contribute to the community. More importantly, vaccination protects public health, as well as the health of employees, customers, members and guests, it said.

The club added that it understands that colleagues may have different concerns about vaccination, so in order to address these concerns and to enhance understanding about vaccination, the club had previously launched an employee vaccination support plan, including the provision of special holidays and support with medical consultation.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club employs 21,000 people, of which 7,900 are full-time members of staff, according to the club’s most recent annual report.

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