Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her most recent Policy Address a couple of weeks ago. It contained a number of important proposals, some of which will impact the workplace. This article details the most important of these.
More time off for new dads
The policy address proposes an increase in paternity leave from three days to five days. This proposal has already been fast tracked through the legislative process and will become effective on a day to be notified by the Hong Kong government, which is expected to be early in 2019.
The structure and process for taking paternity leave remains as set out in our update of 6 January 2015 here.
Comment: Cynics have suggested that this gives Hong Kong fathers two more days to play golf.
Increase in maternity leave for new mums
The policy address proposes that statutory maternity leave increase from 10 weeks (which has been in place for millennia) to 14 weeks. This proposal has already resulted in many large employers in Hong Kong already changing their maternity leave policies to match or exceed the 14 week proposal. Such reaction from employers would appear to be an indication that this change is not going to be difficult to get through the Hong Kong legislature.
It is proposed that the additional four weeks maternity leave will be paid, but only up to a limit of HK$36,822 (which is 80% of HK$50,000). Entitlement to maternity leave pay will remain conditional on the mother having worked 40 weeks prior continuous service.
As a sweetener for employers it is proposed that employers may apply for reimbursement of the additional maternity leave pay from the government.
This extension will be debated by the Labour Advisory Board (never a smooth process!) and, as such, there may be twists and turns to the story that are not obvious now.
Comment: This is an overdue move. Hong Kong's maternity leave provision is low in comparison with our main competitors. The fact that many employers have jumped at the opportunity to change their practice in anticipation of the legislation is indicative that it is the right thing to do.
The vexed question of MPF Offsetting
After years of to'ing and fro'ing it appears that employers, labour unions and the government may be close to resolving the difficult question of eliminating the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) offsetting arrangement which is currently incorporated in the employment protection legislation.
In essence the concern is that an employee's...