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As Hong Kong is confronting a new wave of COVID-19 cases, many companies in the territory are prompted to take steps to contain local transmissions and to ensure employees' safety and health at work, even though chief executive Carrie Lam made it clear that the government currently has no plan to revive work-from-home arrangements for civil servants.

HKTV Mall is no exception. The e-commerce platform announced a relief measure, namely the 100% work-from-home scheme, in an internal email to all employees this week. The scheme not only restricts employees' activities on weekdays but also on weekends and public holidays. 

If employees decide to join the 100% work-from-home scheme, they cannot leave their home at any time of a weekday. Activities such as taking a walk, having lunch, grocery shopping, having meals with friends, going shopping, watching a movie are prohibited on any weekday.

At weekends or during public holiday, employees are only allowed to leave their flat if they are shopping for essentials.

Questions will undoubtedly arise as to whether such measures are legally enforceable. 

In addition to these, during office hours, all work lines must be transferred to the employees' smartphone.

They must put their phones on 'ring' mode, and they have to answer their calls within the first three phone rings. 

If the company cannot reach out to employees through their mobile number, it will call their home number.

Whenever there is a video meeting, employees must make sure their cameras run normally and are switched on during the meeting.

The talent management department will regularly call employees' mobile and home numbers to track their locations.

The department also warned employees of serious disciplinary action and even dismissal if an employee under the scheme violates any of the above guidelines.

This arrangement has spurred debates among netizens. Some found it reasonable because the purpose of work from home scheme is to mitigate the pandemic by limiting traffic. On the other hand, many found it harsh and inhumane.They would prefer to go to the office. 

This is not the first time the company has captured citizens' attention with its policies. 

In 2019, the selection process of the management trainee (MT) programme of its parent company HKTV went viral. MT finalists were asked to jump off a pier as a test of courage.

Photo/ The Standard