Chief Executive Carrie Lam has urged employers to be considerate and flexible in making work arrangements after Typhoon Mangkhut caused damage to the city.
The government ordered the suspension of classes, but did not suspend work for the public on Monday. Shenzhen and Guangzhou – mainland cities also affected by the storm – ordered the suspension of both, as well as business closures.
On Monday morning, commuters experienced long waits at transport hubs as some bus and rail routes remained suspended.
One commuter at Sheung Shui MTR station expressed frustration after waiting an hour for a shuttle bus that never came.
“I’m late, if I don’t get to work I won’t get paid,” he told i-Cable News.
At a press conference held at 9:30am, Lam said that civil servants who were not involved in clean-ups or emergency services do not have to go into the office. She added that workers should not be punished or have their salaries cut if they are late or have difficulty getting to work due to transportation disruptions.
“We would accept it if they call their supervisors saying that they can’t go to work,” she said. “I urge other employers to take the same considerate and flexible measures.”
On Sunday night, several civil and community groups urged public and private institutions to allow workers to take the day off or to work remotely on Monday.
They said the measures would allow time to repair transport facilities, to relieve traffic, and allow workers to take care of children staying home from school.
Many left angry comments on a live stream of Lam’s press conference uploaded by public broadcaster RTHK. “If the government does not take the initiative, how do they expect private companies to be considerate?” one commenter said.
“Stop making your speech and go out to clean up fallen trees,” another said.
Executive Councillor Ronny Tong said the government cannot do much apart from urging employers to be considerate.
“In a free, capitalist society, even the chief executive has no power to order a day off work, and no power to bear the burden of the economic loss if society stops running for a day,” he said.
“We have absolute confidence that employers will be considerate of employees’ difficulties,” Tong added.