The government's plan to give new fathers three days of paid leave is reasonable, insists Secretary of Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.
Under the proposal, new fathers would get three days off on 80 per cent pay - the same benefit as sick or work injury leave, Cheung told the Legislative Council's panel on manpower, which met yesterday.
Civil servants are already granted five days' paternity leave.
But some lawmakers said three days' leave on 80 per cent pay was not enough. "We started asking for [paternity leave] in 2006. Now that we finally get to it, the government is proposing only three days. Isn't that too few?" asked Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing. Cheung responded that the proposal was just a starting point, suggesting adjustments could be made once the law was passed.
The plan has yet to go before the Legislative Council but was supported by the Labour Advisory Board in November.
Women are eligible for 10 weeks' maternity leave during and after pregnancy.
Cheung also said the Labour and Welfare Bureau was inclined to disregard the marital status of new parents or the child's place of birth. A new father would be eligible for the leave as long as he had been employed at the company for 40 weeks or more.
Cheung said the three-day period was based on research from companies that already granted paternity leave and that "two to three days is the norm".
He said he hoped the draft could be ready soon and introduced in the next legislative year.
Liberal Party lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said he supported the legislation but said it might be difficult for employers to cover three days' leave.