On 9 July 2020, the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Employment Amendment Ordinance 2020 bill (the “Bill”). This Bill increases the statutory maternity leave for Hong Kong employees from 10 weeks to 14 weeks. In this article, we look to provide insight as to how this new Bill will impact Hong Kong employers going forward and what people must consider going forward.
What You Will Learn:
1. Key Changes Under the Bill
The main change that this Bill brings is an increase to Hong Kong’s statutory maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks. According to the Bill, not only will the Hong Kong government bear the costs of these additional four weeks, but the rate of maternity leave pay will continue at the existing rate of 80% of the Hong Kong employee’s average daily wages.
Originally, a Hong Kong employee’s leave pay for these four weeks of maternity pay was proposed at HKD 36,822 per employee. However, upon additional review the Hong Kong government is capping this pay at HKD 80,000 per employee for this period.
In addition, this Bill updates the definition of “miscarriage” as stated in the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance. Miscarriages are now recognized as occurring “before 24 weeks of pregnancy”, from the previously stated “before 28 weeks of prenancy.” This change allows female employees who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy to claim maternity leave. Previously, only employees who had a miscarriage or stillbirth at or after 28 weeks of pregnancy were allowed to apply.
Lastly, the Bill relaxes the documentation rule surrounding a pregnant employee claiming sickness allowance when attending a pregnancy related medical examination. Originally, a pregnant employee must present a medical certificate, obtained from a medical practitioner, stating that the pregnant employee is unfit for work on the day of a medical examination. This was recognized as difficult to obtain as many medical practitioners will not issue a medical certificate of such nature if the pregnant employee is not sick or injured. These rules have been relaxed as now, a certificate of attendance issued by the medical practitioner is considered sufficient evidence when claiming sickness allowance.
2. Hong Kong Employer Considerations
The Hong Kong government will allow Hong Kong employers to claim reimbursements for the additional four extra weeks of maternity pay allowed under the Bill.
With the increase in maternity pay, Hong Kong employers should review their maternity leave and paternity leave policies accordingly, to reflect the new changes introduced by the Bill.
The Hong Kong government recommends that all Hong Kong employers seek professional advice in the review of their parental leave policies and the wider employment policies given the various changes in legislation.
3. Notes to Consider
The monthly cap of HKD 80,000 was calculated by using a four-week salary of HKD 50,000. The Hong Kong government states that this salary assumption will increase the coverage of the Hong Kong female working population from 95% to 99%. While this Bill is not yet in force and details on its implementation have yet to be released, it is expected that these new measures will come into effect by the end of this year.
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