It is an employer's duty to make the workplace safe for its employees, and to protect them from harmful accidents at work.
The general duty owed by an employer includes the provision of competent staff adequate material, a proper system of work, and effective supervision.
The ECO applies to all full-time or part-time employees who are employed under contracts of employment or apprenticeship, including domestic helpers, agricultural employees, crewmembers of Hong Kong registered ships, and any persons who are employed in any capacity on board ships registered in Hong Kong or in Hong Kong waters.
Employers are liable to pay compensation for injuries that are sustained by their employees as a result of accidents that arise out of and in the course of employment; or for occupational diseases that are specified in the ECO.
An employer owes a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of its employees.
Where injury is caused to an employee by the negligence, the breach of statutory duty, or other wrongful act or omission of the employer together with any other person(s) or entity(ies), the injured employee may also bring a separate common law claim for damages against the other person(s) or entity(ies). Such a common law claim would be independent of the employee's compensation claim under the ECO. However, any damages awarded against an employer in an action under common law or under any enactment in respect of any such negligence, breach of statutory duty, or wrongful act or omission, shall be reduced by the value of any compensation that has been received by the injured employee under the employees' compensation claim.
What is meant by "an accident of employment"?
According to the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, an accident to an employee is deemed to arise out of and in the course of employment, notwithstanding that the employee was at the time of the accident acting in contravention of any statutory or other regulation applicable to the relevant employment, or of any orders given by or on behalf of the employer, or that the employee was acting without instructions from the employer, if the act was committed by the employee for the purposes of and in connection with the employer's trade or business.
Under what circumstances is the employer NOT liable to pay compensation for work injuries?
Employers are NOT liable to pay compensation in the following circumstances:
- the injury neither results in permanent incapacity nor incapacitates the employee from earning full wages at normal work;
- the injury is self-inflicted;
- the death or incapacity results from the injury (including all occupational diseases which are specified in the ECO) that the employee has falsely claimed to be free of to the employer; or
- the injury is caused by an accident that is directly attributable to the employee's addiction to drugs or alcohol and does not result in death or serious and permanent incapacity.
In addition, in any proceedings under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance in which it is proved that the injury is attributable to the serious and wilful misconduct of the employee, or that an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment is deliberately aggravated by the employee, any compensation claimed will be disallowed. The exception is that when the injury results in death or serious incapacity, on consideration of all of the circumstances the Court may award the compensation provided by the Ordinance or such part thereof as it thinks fit.