Hotel asks staff to get inoculated or face chop

Top News | 10 Jun 2021

Jane Cheung

The Peninsula Hong Kong could see staff laid off among other measures if less than 70 percent of them are vaccinated by the end of the month.

In an internal memo, Peter Borer, chief operating officer of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, said: "I am expecting your loyalty to help us to get this hotel back on its feet, and hence you need to get vaccinated."

He said the company lost HK$2 billion last year and current losses are running to around HK$60 million a month.

Although 2,000 worldwide staff of the group have lost their jobs, Borer added, the Peninsula Hong Kong had not been firing employees.

He noted that staff in Manila "who are not offered free plane rides and cars and apartments are queuing up to get vaccinated," and there was a scarcity of shots in the Philippines.

Yet Hong Kong may throw away unused vaccine.

"If you are not getting vaccinated, to me personally this is unacceptable," Borer said. "So I feel very disappointed and very angry about those of you who refuse to take the vaccine.

"Unless you have a very valid medical reason you should proceed to the nearest computer and book your vaccination appointment."

He also asked staff to show the human resources department their bookings.

"By the end of June this hotel will reach [an uptake rate] of 70 percent," he went on. "I plan to revisit the hotel in July and if we have not reached this target I will announce much more stringent cost-saving measures, which might include layoffs."

A hotel statement confirmed the memo but added "we are not forcing anyone to get vaccinated."

The hotel said it has offered around 1,500 Hong Kong-based staff HK$2,000 if they get vaccinated, with an additional HK$2,000 if 70 percent are vaccinated by August 31.

Sources said Borer held a meeting with unvaccinated staff on Monday and "strongly encouraged" them to get the shots, noting coverage in the SAR operation was only 17 percent.

Alex Tsui Hau-lai, chairman of the Hong Kong Hotels Employees Union, criticized the Peninsula for "threatening" staff to get the jabs.

Also yesterday, Hongkong Land announced cash rewards and time off for employees who get the jabs.

Staff who have had both doses by July 15 will receive HK$3,800 and those finishing their second dose by August 31 will get HK$1,800.

Each employee will get two days of vaccination leave and if an overall 70 percent is achieved by August 31 another two days of leave will be given to all staff.

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