Medical leave on tropical island costs employee his job

The district court maintained its verdict, stating that Xu had disregarded the doctor's recommendation of bed rest


A Chinese technology firm terminated the employment of one of its workers when it was discovered that he had utilised his two-week medical leave on a tropical island. A man named Xu, challenged the decision made by his employer, but Beijing’s Third Intermediate People’s Court dismissed his appeal in mid-April 2023.

As per a report by China’s National Business Daily (NBD) on April 16, the conflict began in July 2019 when Xu, who had been working for the company since 1998, requested a two-week paid leave. However, his manager refused the application, citing the need for manpower. Xu informed his manager that he had already purchased plane tickets for a trip with his child to Hainan, a southern Chinese island often referred to as the ‘Hawaii of China’.

Following the rejection of his initial leave request, Xu submitted an application for sick leave from July 18 to July 31, citing dizziness and a spinal condition. He also presented a medical certificate recommending bed rest and neck exercises. NBD reported that Xu’s sick leave was subsequently approved.

However, one of Xu’s colleagues spotted him at the airport in Hainan while he was on sick leave and informed the employer. On August 21, Xu’s manager contacted him to inquire about his whereabouts during his sick leave. Xu stated that he was in Beijing at home and had not gone on any trip.

However, the tech company still terminated Xu two days later on charges of dishonesty and fraud, leading to a labour dispute. Additionally, Xu was deprived of the 620,000 Chinese yuan (equivalent to $90,000) in compensation that had previously been granted to him.

A labour tribunal later ruled that the employer had violated labour laws and ordered them to pay Xu compensation of 620,000 yuan, but the company appealed the decision, and a higher-level court overturned the ruling. In response, Xu filed a counter-appeal, claiming that he had not deceived his former employer since he had a property in Hainan and had travelled there by plane and high-speed rail to recuperate from his medical condition.
Despite Xu’s claims, the district court maintained its verdict, stating that Xu had disregarded the doctor’s recommendation of bed rest.

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