Hong Kong’s Legislative Council has passed the Employment Bill of 2019 introducing additional maternity benefits for female employees. Read more.
The government of Hong Kong announced that statutory maternity leave under the Employment Ordinance (EO) will increase from 10 weeks to 14 weeks. After reviewing the statutory maternity leave, the Labor Department of Hong Kong published a paper recommending the change and its corresponding implementation timeline. A bill amending the EO will be introduced by the government to the Legislative Council in late 2019. The extension of statutory maternity leave should enter into force once the bill is passed.
The extension of statutory maternity leave would put Hong Kong on par with the International Labor Organizations’ minimum standards.
Currently, female employees are entitled to 10 weeks statutory maternity leave paid by the employer at a rate of 80% of the employee’s average daily wages. The additional four weeks maternity leave would be funded by the government at the same rate. However, the additional period would be subject to a cap of HKD 36,822 per employee. The cap would be equivalent to 80% of the wages of an employee with a maximum monthly wage of HKD 50,000 in four weeks. Most female employees in Hong Kong earn a monthly wage of HKD 50,000 or less.
Employers would be required to pay the additional four weeks to qualifying female employees in the same way they do for the current 10 weeks statutory maternity leave. Employers may seek reimbursement for the additional 4 weeks from the government subject to proof of payment.
The Labor Department is also recommending an update in the definition of miscarriage. Currently, in cases of miscarriage on or after 28 weeks of pregnancy, female employees are entitled to statutory maternity leave. The upcoming bill would allow female employees who suffered a miscarriage or a stillbirth on or after 24 weeks of pregnancy to receive statutory maternity leave. Female employees who suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy would be entitled to use sick leave.
Employers should monitor the implementation timeline of the proposals and update their internal policies accordingly.