Hong Kong Increases Maternity Leave

By Charles To and Tiffany Li © Ellalan October 16, 2020
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Hong Kong skyline

​The Legislative Council of Hong Kong has passed the Employment Amendment Ordinance 2020, which extends female employees' statutory 10 weeks of maternity leave to 14 weeks. The amendment will take effect Dec. 11. While 14 weeks is relatively short compared to other developed countries, this is still a welcome change for many.

Under the current law, a female employee is entitled to a continuous period of 10 weeks' maternity leave if she is employed under a continuous contract immediately before her maternity leave commences and has given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave to her employer. The Amendment Ordinance extends this period to 14 weeks.

Other key changes to the ordinance are as follows:

  • The current statutory rate of maternity leave pay of four-fifths of the employee's average daily wages will be maintained for calculating the additional maternity leave pay with respect to the extension of the maternity leave, subject to a cap of $80,000 Hong Kong dollars (approximately $10,322 USD) per employee. 
  • The definition of miscarriage is updated from "before 28 weeks of pregnancy" to 24 weeks to entitle the employee who suffers a miscarriage to maternity leave, subject to meeting other conditions.
  • A certificate of attendance issued by a medical practitioner shall be accepted as documentary proof as an alternative to a medical certificate for entitling an eligible employee to sickness allowance for any day on which the employee has attended a medical examination in relation to her pregnancy.

It is important to note that if the date of confinement falls before Dec. 11, the current legislation applies and only 10 weeks of maternity leave is granted.

It is also worthwhile to note that a male employee is entitled to five days of paternity leave and the Amendment Ordinance does not change this.

Employers may apply to the government for the reimbursement of the costs for the additional maternity leave. However, the government has yet to announce details regarding the reimbursement of the amount of additional maternity leave pay required to be paid by employers under the Amendment Ordinance.

Charles To is an attorney and Tiffany Li is a trainee solicitor with Ellalan in Hong Kong. © 2020 Ellalan. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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