China Company Fired Employee for Taking ‘Bed Rest’ on Tropical Island

  • A tech company fired a man who spent sick leave on a tropical island, per National Business Daily.
  • The employee applied for two weeks of paid leave earlier but was rejected by his manager.
  • The employee was fired after a co-worker spotted him at the Hainan airport.

A tech company in China fired an employee after he spent his two-week sick leave on a tropical island, according to the country’s National Business Daily, or NBD, on April 16.

The man, who was identified only by his surname, Xu, contested his employer’s action, but it was rejected by Beijing’s Third Intermediate People’s Court in mid-April 2023, according to the media outlet, citing a court filing.

Xu also lost a 620,000-Chinese yuan, or $90,000 compensation, that was earlier awarded to him. The outlet did not name the company, which is located in Beijing. 

The dispute started in July 2019 when Xu who had been employed by the company since 1998 applied for two weeks of paid leave. The request was rejected by his manager due to manpower needs, per NBD. Xu told his manager at the time he already bought airline tickets for the trip to China’s southern island of Hainan — also known as the Hawaii of China — with his kid.

Xu then applied for sick leave for the period from July 18 to July 31. He also provided documentation that he was suffering from dizziness and a spinal condition. A doctor’s note recommended bed rest and neck exercises. Xu’s sick leave was approved, according to NBD.

However, one of Xu’s co-workers saw him at the airport in Hainan during his sick leave and reported the sighting, according to the media report.

Xu’s manager called Xu on August 21 to check where he was during his sick leave. Xu reported he was at home in Beijing and that he did not travel, per NBD.

“I’m telling you that I was sick and I did not travel. I just recuperated at home,” Xu told his manager, NBD reported. The tech company fired Xu two days later for “fraud and dishonesty” and a labor dispute between the two parties ensued.

A labor tribunal ruled Xu’s employer should pay him a 620,000-yuan compensation for violating labor laws. NBD did not state when this ruling took place.

The company appealed the ruling at a higher-level court, which overturned the decision, per NBD. Xu then filed a counter-appeal saying he did not cheat his former employee because he did own a flat in Hainan and had traveled — via plane and high-speed rail — to and from the island to recuperate from his medical ailments.

Still, the district court upheld its decision because it deemed Xu had gone against the doctor’s advice of bed rest.

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