Paternity leave 'next year' for city's civil servants

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am


The city's civil servants could be entitled to up to five days of paid paternity leave by the middle of next year, according to a government consultation paper.

The proposal might set a precedent for other employers, as the government, the city's largest employer, is planning a separate consultation early next year to consider making paternity leave a statutory requirement for all employers.

A consultation paper by the Civil Service Bureau released on Monday suggested that all eligible government employees, including civil servants, judicial officers and non-civil-service contract staff, would be entitled to three to five days of paid paternity leave. However, employees of contractors and service providers to the government are not included under the proposal.

The proposal came after Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in his last policy address last month that the government would take the lead in providing paid paternity leave, to promote child-rearing and family-friendly practices. Tsang said the government would consider carefully whether to extend the practice to all employers.

The government said the suggested length of the leave was based on some local private enterprises and public bodies, which most commonly provide two to three days of leave. The government also referred to the Macau government, which offers five days' paid leave.

The proposal stated there would be no limit on the number or location of births under the leave scheme. But the leave would have to be taken between four weeks before the expected date of birth and eight weeks after the actual date.

A bureau spokeswoman said the proposal could be put into effect in the middle of next year, after consultations with employees and the Legislative Council.

The proposal stated the scheme might cost an 'insignificant' amount to administer but would require no new civil service positions.

Wong Kwok-hing, a lawmaker representing the Federation of Trade Unions, said the proposal was not yet perfect. He said he expected the government to set an example by offering seven days' paternity leave.

Peter Wong Hyo, president of the 90,000-strong Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, said he expected the government to provide five days of leave.

But he was concerned it would worsen the manpower shortage in government departments.

The Labour and Welfare Bureau said yesterday the government was studying the provision of paternity leave to the city's non-government employees. A separate Labour Advisory Board consultation would address it in the first quarter of next year.

Wilson Shea Kai-chuen, president of the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises Association, said local businesses would accept a statutory requirement of two to three days' paid paternity leave to employees.