Watchdog to probe case of Disney cleaner told to resign

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2006, 12:00am


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The Equal Opportunities Commission has said it will look into the complaint by a Disney cleaner who claimed he was told to resign because he took too much sick leave.

The cleaner said yesterday he was offered two options by his supervisor on Wednesday: leave voluntarily or be sacked.

This came after he took 15 days' sick leave in his five months on the job.

Mr Leung said he had taken almost 10 days off in September because of a bout of bronchitis and was now taking one to two days a month.

'I don't want to be sick but I catch colds easily and my knees, which I sprained when I was young, get painful at times, rendering me almost unable to walk,' he said.

'[The supervisor] said my performance was improving, but since my attendance still fell below the expected standard, they would have to lay me off if I didn't quit myself,' said the cleaner, who gave his name only as Mr Leung.

He said he had orally agreed to resign but had yet to submit his letter.

A spokeswoman for Disney's cast members' union, Alice Pong Ka-lui, said it was unfair for workers to be persecuted for sickness, especially as many fell ill due to the 'enormous' workload.

A Disney spokeswoman said park management was unaware of any unfair treatment of staff with regard to sick leave, and staff who felt they had been discriminated against could seek help from the company's human resources department.

The commission said harsh treatment such as pay cuts or dismissal as a result of disability could be discrimination, and promised to look into the case.

It said employers could defend themselves by proving that such disabilities harmed the company's operations and could not easily be rectified.

Union spokeswoman Ms Pong said morale had 'never been lower since the Lunar New Year holiday ... and 10 per cent to 20 per cent of staff planned to leave as they felt no one appreciated their hard work'.

Many worked 10 hours daily for seven days straight during the holiday, when the park was crammed with mainland tourists.

'For all the hard work, we got free Cokes and cakes in return.'

The Disney spokeswoman said the park would express its gratitude to staff for their hard work but had yet to decide what form it should take.