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  • Can enterprises prohibit employees from going hometown for the Spring Festival with the excuse of epidemic control?

    Can enterprises prohibit employees from going hometown for the Spring Festival with the excuse of epidemic control?

    The 2021 Spring Festival is approaching, but the epidemic becomes severer in many cities. Almost all the local governments have called on citizens to stay at their current cities during the Spring Festival, many universities have announced that students could leave the campus upon the approval of the universities. In view of the reactions of local governments and universities, considering the employees’ health and the business arrangement after the festival, many enterprises hope that employees could stay at the current cities during the Spring Festival. Can enterprises prohibit employees from going hometown for the Spring Festival?

    When the epidemic breaks out, and the local governments have taken measures on restricting citizens’ movements, such as “lock down a city” and etc., in accordance with the “Law on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases” and local policies, enterprises could prohibit employees from going hometown. Such prohibition is the implementation of relevant laws and local policies. Despite the situation aforesaid, employees are free to use their holidays granted by laws and regulations, and enterprises shall not restrict or prohibit employees’ movements.

    However, it does not mean that employees could go to hometown at their own discretion. In fact, enterprises could flexibly affect employees’ decisions. Enterprises could use the following measures:

    1. To manage the approval of leave effectively. Many local policies require an isolation measure for employees before going to hometown and after coming back from hometown. In view of this, despite the 7 days holiday for the Spring Festival, an employee has to apply for paid annual leave or personal leave for the isolation period. Enterprises have the right to well arrange the approval of paid annual leave, and even reject the application of personal leave.
    2. To share the information on the risks of going back to hometown. Enterprises could collect relevant materials, data, with which enterprises could explain the risks related to the movements during the Spring Festival, let employees to realize the right way to practice “Love” and “Filial Piety”, and finally drive employees to make a reasonable decision.

    In order to persuade more employees to stay at the current cities, enterprises could consider providing some benefits to employees, such as a special bonus, or extra days for paid leave and etc..

    In practice, it is a controversial topic on the interference of enterprises in employees’ private life. The main reason is that there is a fuzzy zone between the HR management and employees’ private life. If an enterprise has interferred an employee’s private life without a necessary and reasonable reason, normally such interference would be deemed as invalid. The necessity and rationality of such interference should be considered with many factors, such as the enterprise’s business characteristics, corporate ethics and culture, the function of the employee’s position, and so on. For example, an employee is a driver, and the enterprise prohibits him from drinking alcohol within 24 hours before driving, normally the court would support such prohibition, because the purpose of such prohibition is to guarantee the safety of the driver and passengers. Let’s see another example, in the internal rules, an enterprise emphasizes the corporate ethics, and requires employees to abide by public order and good customs, then if an employee has extramarital affairs or has paid for sex with a prostitute, and etc., then normally it is more possible for the court to support the enterprise’s punishment on the relevant employees.