Study finds public favours workplaces friendly to women, families

Residents also back initiatives for female workers, but are divided on foreigners

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 6:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 6:33am

More family-friendly workplaces and initiatives to help women join the workforce are popular with the public, but Hongkongers remain divided on the need to bring in foreign workers.

Those were the findings of a preliminary analysis by University of Hong Kong academics of public responses to a government consultation on population policy. The consultation ended in February.

The findings were presented to members of the government's steering committee on population policy yesterday. They will help the committee as it makes plans to cope with a demographic shift, which will see a declining workforce cope with a growing retired population.

"There is a clear message that women should be offered help," committee member Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai said.

While 57,100 babies were born last year, Yip said the government-provided child care services had little more than 1,000 places available. By contrast, in Western countries more than half of families with newborn babies made use of government child care services, he said.

Private firms also had a role to play in making workplaces more family-friendly, Yip said, for example by offering more flexible working hours.

On the other hand, views on migrant labour remained "diverse" and "extreme", Yip said. The topic has been widely debated in recent months, as some sectors called for an easing of restrictions on hiring from abroad, while unions said local workers should come first.

The committee said in a statement after the meeting that it would continue to consider improvements to the labour importation system without jeopardising the interests of local workers.

Other policy areas the group plans to study include encouraging people to stay in the workforce to a later age and consolidating the post-secondary education system for students paying for their own courses.

The committee is chaired by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.