Update: The Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, which increases the statutory maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks, entered into effect on 11 December 2020. The Hong Kong Labour Department has recently announced that employers are now able to apply for reimbursement of the statutory maternity leave pay paid to employees in respect to weeks 11 to 14 (the additional four weeks), at a rate of four-fifths of the employee’s daily average wages with a cap of HK$80,000 per employee.
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council has passed the Employment Bill of 2019 introducing additional maternity benefits for female employees. Additional information on the history of this bill can be found here.
Female employees in Hong Kong who have worked under a continuous contract for 40 weeks at a minimum of 18 hours per week currently have a statutory entitlement to a paid maternity leave for 10 weeks at four-fifths of average daily wages, as well as entitlement to maternity leave where a miscarriage occurs after 28 weeks.
In order to foster more family-friendly policies, the Hong Kong Legislature passed the Employment (Amendment) Bill with the following key changes:
- The statutory maternity leave entitlement increases from the existing 10 weeks to 14 weeks.
- The daily rate of maternity leave pay for the extended period of maternity leave (the additional four weeks) will be payable to the employee, and reimbursed by the government to employers, at the rate of four-fifths of the employee’s daily average wages with a cap of HK$80,000 per employee.
- In the event of a miscarriage at or after 24 weeks (rather than the previous 28 weeks), a female employee will be entitled to maternity leave (if other conditions are met).
- Where a female employee has a pregnancy-related medical appointment, a certificate of attendance will be accepted as proof of entitlement to sickness allowance for that day. The certificate of attendance, rather than a medical certificate (which needs to address the number of days an employee is unfit for work and why) may be issued by registered medical practitioners, registered Chinese medicine practitioners, registered midwives or registered nurses.
- Male employees will be entitled to take a paternity leave within 14 weeks after the birth of the child instead of 10 weeks.
The Bill is expected to be gazette and implemented at the end of the year, almost a year earlier than anticipated.
Employers should review and update their current maternity leave policies to be prepared to comply with the new requirements.