Employment Spotlight: Statutory Hong Kong Maternity Leave Increases to 14 Weeks

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The Hong Kong Government announced last week that The Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 (“Ordinance”) – passed by the Legislative Council on 9 July 2020 – will come into operation on 11 December 2020.

Under the Ordinance, statutory maternity leave will be extended by 4 weeks, to a total of 14 weeks. The maternity leave must be taken continuously. 

Key Takeaways

1. Maternity Leave Eligibility

Female employees under a continuous employment contract for no less than 40 weeks will be eligible.

2. Confinement Date

If confinement commences before 11 December 2020, a female employee’s maternity leave period will remain at 10 weeks. If confinement commences on or after 11 December 2020, her entitlement will be extended to 14 weeks.

3. Maternity Leave Pay

Pay is to be calculated at four-fifths the daily average of the wages
earned by the employee.

The Hong Kong Government will reimburse employers for the cost of the additional 4-week leave, capped at HK$80,000, though details regarding how employers can apply for reimbursement for the additional 4-week maternity leave have yet to be announced by the Hong Kong Government.

4. Paternity Leave

Under the Ordinance, male employees will be able to take their statutory paternity leave within a 14 week period (instead of a 10 week period) if the child is born on or after 11 December 2020.

5. Internal Maternity Leave Policies

Employers should be prepared to update their maternity leave policies and
procedures in light of the Bill.

Click here to read our earlier maternity leave article detailing other important aspects under the Ordinance, including the revised definition of a miscarriage, and revisions regarding sickness allowance when employees attend medical appointments relating to their pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I start my maternity leave?

In Hong Kong, the general practice is that the employer and employee would agree upon the date of maternity leave commencement before the expected date of delivery of the child.

In the event the maternity leave date is not agreed upon, the employee shall commence her maternity leave 4 weeks before the expected date of delivery.

However, if the child is delivered before the expected date of delivery, maternity leave commences from the birth of the child.

Why is it important to have maternity leave?

Alongside boosting physical and mental health and enabling the crucial mother and child bond, maternity leave facilitates the integration of women in the workforce and builds an inclusive work culture.

Studies have shown that maternity leave is beneficial for employers as well because employees are more likely to experience increased morale, productivity, and commitment towards the workplace.

Furthermore, providing 14 weeks of maternity leave is a statutory requirement in Hong Kong.

What is statutory maternity pay?

It is a payment for the 14 weeks of statutory maternity leave. The daily rate of maternity leave pay is four-fifths of the employee’s daily average wages earned in the 12-month period immediately preceding the first day of the maternity leave.

The maternity leave pay for the 11th to 14th week is capped at HK$80,000.

When do maternity leave payment start?

The statutory maternity leave payments start from the day when the maternity leave commences. The payment is made on the normal payday of the employee.

Contacts

Andrea Randall, Partner
Tel +852 3405 7630
andrearandall@gallhk.com

Nick Dealy, Partner
Tel +852 3405 7656
ndealy@gallhk.com 

Kritika Sethia, Legal Analyst 
Tel +852 3405 7654
kritikasethia@gallhk.com