Paternity leave looms for civil servants

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am


The city's civil servants could be taking paid paternity leave by the second half of next year, Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee said yesterday.

Tentative details would be released within two months in a government consultation document, followed by a consultation among the 160,000 civil servants, Yue told the Legislative Council.

The scheme would not cover employees of government contractors, Yue said. Statutory bodies would decide whether to join the scheme.

As for making paid paternity leave statutory for all employers, a policy study would address the issue by the first quarter of next year, Secretary for Labour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said.

'We will take account of the implications for doing business - especially for small and medium-sized enterprises - and also the practicality and legality of granting paid paternity leave,' he added, amid concerns about how the policy would deal with cross-border marriages and children born out of wedlock.

Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said implementing paid paternity leave only for civil servants would widen their employment benefit gap with the private sector.

'Other male workers would still be unable to enjoy paid leave when their wives give birth. This is not a family-friendly policy,' said Cheung.

The policy could add huge costs for small and medium-sized enterprises, said Jimmy Ng Wing-ka, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong.

'Our staffing costs for paid birth-related leave could double as companies need to hire temporary staff,' said Ng. 'But we need further details on the plan from the government before deciding whether businesses will support the policy.'