Hi-tech hub Shenzhen allows firms to impose no-pay leave on workers who refuse Covid-19 testing

Shenzhen, sporadic coronavirus infections, China’s “technology self-sufficiency” strategy

Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley and the richest city in southern Guangdong province, has imposed new requirements on pandemic control measures, allowing companies in the hi-tech hub to impose no-pay leave for employees who refuse to take Covid-19 tests and prohibit them from entering workplaces.

The city’s Human Resources and Social Security Bureau released that policy last week as part of the local government’s zero-tolerance approach to sporadic coronavirus infections.

Employers need not pay the salary of workers for the period when they were put under quarantine or medical watch after being found in violation of official health control rules and regulations, according to a statement from the bureau.

It said employers cannot terminate the contracts of employees who are unable to work because of quarantine policies. In addition, workers’ contracts that are set to expire during their quarantine or medical watch will be postponed until the end of such period.

Under the updated measures, all travellers leaving Guangdong through Shenzhen’s airport, railway, bus stations and ports from Sunday must present a negative test result valid within 48 hours. More than 9,600 passengers who did not meet that requirement were turned back from the city’s airport over the weekend.

The initiative in Shenzhen, which plays a major role in China’s “technology self-sufficiency” strategy, comes after the latest outbreak in Guangdong, which began in the provincial capital Guangzhou on May 21.

The stakes are high for the metropolis, as it moves to cement its role as the “core engine” of the Greater Bay Area.

As of 7am on Monday, Guangdong had 2,699 total confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 1,135 were imported, according to the latest data from the province’s Health Commission.

Guangdong reported one new confirmed local case of Covid-19 on Sunday in Dongguan, an industrial city north of Shenzhen. As of Monday, a total of 230 Covid-19 patients remained hospitalised across the province.

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