Statutory paternity leave could be in place by 2013
Statutory paternity leave of three to five days could be introduced in Hong Kong next year, the labour minister said yesterday.
In a bid to calm the concerns of businesses, the secretary for labour and welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said the government estimated the overall cost in lost man-hours would be between HK$300 million and HK$400 million a year, or about 0.02 per cent of the total.
'We have finished a study on paternity leave and the next step is to reach a consensus in the Labour Advisory Board,' Cheung said in a TVB interview. 'The government has made it clear that we hope to solve it by legislation, because the effect of giving paternity leaves is relatively small to the business sector.'
Cheung said helping businesses with subsidies or tax rebates was not an option.
He said that some employers had already started granting paternity leave of about three days on average.
Cheung said the administration's study report on reducing standard working hours will be filed to the Executive Council for discussion as soon as possible before going to the Labour Advisory Board. He hoped to put a proposal for approval by the Legislative Council next year.
Cheung also commented on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's announcement last week of a HK$6 billion a year plan to give 400,000 poor elderly people HK$2,200 a month. The scheme will open for applications from people aged 65 and above next year.
The income and asset limits will be the same as for the Old Age Allowance - for a single person, the income cap is HK$6,600 a month while the asset limit is HK$186,000. For a married couple, the income is capped at HK$10,520 a month and assets at HK$281,000.
Cheung said the measure was one of the first steps to tackle Hong Kong's deep-rooted problems.