Sunflower Travel asks all staff to take unpaid leave - RTHK
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Sunflower Travel asks all staff to take unpaid leave

2020-10-28 HKT 21:40
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  • Sunflower Travel says it can no longer afford to pay staff costs or even rent for its offices. File photo: RTHK
    Sunflower Travel says it can no longer afford to pay staff costs or even rent for its offices. File photo: RTHK
A prominent local travel agency is asking all 300 staff members to take unpaid leave from December, saying it can no longer afford to pay rent or staff costs.

RTHK has obtained an internal letter from Sunflower Travel dated Tuesday, October 27, in which the management explained that the firm is facing serious financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has asked all staff members to reply by noon on Thursday whether they accept this arrangement. It said there would be two phases of unpaid leave – the first from December to February, and the second from March to May but provided no implementation details.

The agency also said it would stop asking for government wage subsidies from December. Firms can only join the Employment Subsidy Scheme if they promise not to sack workers.

In the first phase of the scheme, Sunflower received nearly HK$6.7 million for maintaining its 297 staff positions.

The chairman of the Travel Industry Council, Jason Wong, said he expects more travel agencies to introduce similar cost-cutting measures as the government's subsidy scheme expires at the end of next month.

He called on the travel industry to do all it can to retain workers until sector-boosting measures such as ‘travel bubbles’ or the health-code system with the mainland are implemented, saying that’s when things would turn around for the trade.