Paternity leave helps redress the balance
Hong Kong's much talked about, but still largely elusive, efforts to create a better work-life balance have been given a boost with the announcement by energy utility CLP Power that it will introduce three days of fully paid paternity leave.
Chan Hin-sang, CLP group human resources manager - employee relations and communications, said the introduction of paternity leave was just one of many company-initiated family friendly practices designed to create a better work-life balance for employees. Three days leave at full pay will be granted to staff who have completed their probationary period when their registered wives give birth.
'The paternity leave concept has been well received by employees, which we see as another morale-lifting incentive,' Mr Chan said. Each year, about 100 wives of CLP employees give birth.
He said paternity leave, which includes a HK$1,000 lai see or 'Baby Boom Grant', was part of a policy to develop a family-friendly working environment in which employees would also be offered three days extra leave when they married. The three-day leave could be taken from one day before to six months after a wedding.
CLP joins Standard Chartered Bank, which announced in February it would introduce five days of paternity leave for its staff. At the British Council in Hong Kong, all male staff members are entitled to paternity leave of 10 days on the birth of their child.
The company is also increasing its one-day funeral or compassionate leave to up to three days for employees who have completed their probationary period.
Former Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said that Hong Kong might introduce legislation on paternity leave as part of a push to encourage more family-friendly workplaces. Mr Cheung said the government was studying the feasibility of introducing legislation by taking references from international examples, but it needed to consider the impact of legislation on the operating costs of Hong Kong's small- to medium-sized enterprises.
Hong Kong's employment law states women should receive 80 per cent of their salary for their 10-week maternity leave if they have worked continuously for a company for 40 weeks. However, there is no provision for paternity leave.
Under its new family-friendly system, CLP's women employees will now receive full payment instead of 80 per cent of the salary during their maternity leave.
Mr Chan said the company hoped that the new plan would encourage employees to have children.
He said that since CLP had introduced a five-day work week, flexible working hours and other work-friendly initiatives in the late 1990s there had been no loss of productivity but instead a noticeable increase in employee sense of well-being. Except for emergencies, essential services and exceptional circumstances, each of CLP's 4,000 employees operate around a five-day week schedule.
CLP offers three days paternity leave at full pay to staff that have completed their probationary period when their registered wives give birth.
Under its new family-friendly system, CLP's women employees will now receive full payment instead of 80 per cent of their salary during their 10-week maternity leave.
The government is reviewing the issue of paternity leave as part of an ongoing push to encourage more family-friendly workplaces.