Congratulations, you’re expecting! Here is everything you need to know about maternity leave, paternity leave and maternity pay in Hong Kong.
Bringing a new life into the world is a profound experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Will you go for a private delivery package or give birth in the public system? There’s a whole host of baby products and nursery gear to buy. Do you need (or want) to hire a domestic helper? First and foremost though, you’ll want to get your head around the parental leave policies in Hong Kong. We delve into the intricacies of maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave to help you get the most out of your mat leave.
Entitlements For Maternity Leave In Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, maternity leave is governed by the Labour Department. The standard maternity leave entitlement in Hong Kong is 14 weeks. In order to be eligible you need to:
- Have been employed on a continuous contract for more than 40 weeks. If you have been employed for less than 40 weeks you are still entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave without pay.
- Give notice to your employer that you intend to take maternity leave and present a doctor’s certificate confirming the pregnancy.
You are also entitled to leave to attend your prenatal check-ups. This is taken from your sick leave entitlements.
Fourteen weeks will surely fly by! While you’ll negotiate your start date with your employer, you must go on leave at least two weeks before your due date.
Some other things to note:
- You are entitled to maternity leave if you suffer a miscarriage after 24 weeks
- If you give birth prematurely, your leave will start on the day you give birth
Payment Of Maternity Leave In Hong Kong
As a minimum, you are entitled to 80% of your regular pay and this will be paid according to your usual pay schedule. If your income varies, then your employer will calculate your average monthly salary for the 12 months preceding your leave.
While your maternity pay will be paid into your account by your employer, it’s worth knowing that they are only responsible for funding the first ten weeks. Weeks 11 to 14 are reimbursed by the government (up to a total value of $80,000).
Paternity Leave In Hong Kong
Unfortunately, the Hong Kong paternity leave benefits aren’t quite so generous. Fathers are entitled to five days of paternity leave, provided they have given at least three months’ notice to their employer (they don’t need to specify the actual dates until later).
Sassy Mama Tip: Paternity leave can be taken as a block of five days, or as separate days from four weeks before the due date until 14 weeks after the child is born.
Parental Leave For Same-Sex Couples And Adoptive Families
Hong Kong is progressively adapting its policies to be more inclusive and reflective of diverse family structures. Same-sex couples are entitled to the same maternity and paternity leave benefits as heterosexual couples. Likewise, adoptive parents are entitled to the same maternity and paternity leave benefits as biological parents.
Maternity Leave For Domestic Helpers
It’s important to know that domestic helpers are entitled to exactly the same maternity leave entitlements as any other employee in Hong Kong. That is not to say that it won’t cause interruptions to your daily routine. The best thing you can do is sit down with your helper and have an open and honest discussion. Some questions you might need to consider are:
- Will they have the baby in Hong Kong, or will they return to their home country?
- Where will the baby live once they are born?
- Do they wish to return to work after the baby is born?
- Are they able to fulfil their regular duties or do these need to be modified?
There’s every possibility that you won’t get all the answers you’re looking for immediately. Be supportive, kind and empathetic while understanding her rights and your obligations.
How Does Maternity Leave In Hong Kong Stack Up?
Depending on where you are from, Hong Kong’s maternity leave policies will either seem generous or severely limiting.
In the USA, for example, parents are only entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. At the other end of the spectrum, you find the Nordic countries where policies are significantly more supportive. Take Sweden, widely believed to have the most equal-paid parental schemes in the world. Parents receive 480 days of fully paid leave, which can be split however the family sees fit.
Termination Of Contracts While Pregnant
You CAN NOT be dismissed from the day that you give your notice of pregnancy until the day that you are due to return to work. If you are dismissed, and then immediately discover you are pregnant, the dismissal must be withdrawn and your maternity leave entitlements will be in place.
There are, however, some exceptions. You can be fired for serious misconduct. Likewise, if you are on probation you can be dismissed, so long as there are reasonable grounds.
These rules apply to domestic workers in the same way as they apply to any other employee in Hong Kong.
Have More Questions About Maternity Leave In Hong Kong…
It is only natural to have questions or concerns about your specific situation. The Labour Department is extremely helpful in answering all your queries.