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Men who work in the private sector are moving closer to enjoying paid paternity leave after government advisers endorsed the administration's proposal for three days off.
The Labour Advisory Board gave its endorsement after months of negotiations between employer and employee representatives on the board. An employee representative said they had proposed five days of leave but met with strong resistance from the employers' side.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he was delighted at the outcome. "Three days is a good start. The board has taken into consideration how much small and medium-sized enterprises can bear," Cheung said yesterday.
The board agreed with the government's proposal that new fathers should get four-fifths of their pay during those three days of leave. Male civil servants are entitled to five days of paternity leave and receive their salaries in full during the period.
When asked why men in the private sector could not also be paid in full, Cheung said women were also paid four-fifths of their pay.
The board agreed to let unmarried men enjoy the benefit, as long as they could prove they were the father of the child.
It agreed the leave would apply even if the men's wives or girlfriends gave birth outside Hong Kong.
Cheung said the government would send a proposal to the Legislative Council soon.
Board member Ng Wai-yee, of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions, said employer representative Stanley Lau Chin-ho, of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, was the only one who remained opposed to three days' leave at the end of the talks.
Ng said she and the other employee representatives had proposed five days off. "We talked about a five-day leave for a while and then decided the important thing is to have such a law introduced first, even though it's only three days," she said.
Lau said companies should decide the issue themselves.