Awards honour Hong Kong companies with family-friendly practices

Winners of competition implement a host of measures including offering more days of leave, and hiring an in-house doctor for workers who breastfeed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 8:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 10:10pm

Offering more days of annual leave and having an in-house doctor to answer breastfeeding questions are among some family-friendly initiatives recognised yesterday in a competition organised by the Family Council and which saw more than 2,700 companies taking part.

The winners said with Hong Kong still taking the top spot in average working hours worldwide, and its population ageing at a rapid rate, caring for workers’ families was key to retain talent.

The biennial Family-Friendly Employers Award Scheme, set up by the Home Affairs Bureau and Family Council in 2011, held its third award ceremony yesterday.

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A total of 2,555 corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and orga­nisations from different sectors were recognised as family-friendly employers.

Meiriki Japan, a Hong Kong health supplements company with 93 employees, received both the Distinguished Family-Friendly Employer award and an Award for Innovation for the second time. Managing director Ophelia Lin Shun-heung said it is critical that she made sure her “employees feel that they have time to care for their families”.

“Employees are entitled to two days of annual leave for each child they have. Their parents would also receive HK$500 of travel subsidy each year,” she said.

Lin said such policies have helped her firm keep the turnover rate at about 6 per cent, compared with around 30 per cent on averagein her industry. She also said her company gives men 10 days of paternity leave over three years.

Alan Woo Wing-lun originally left Meiriki Japan but returned when he became a father. “I often had to work overtime in my new company so I never got to see [my daughter],” he said. “I decided to go back as Meiriki Japan promised its employees no overtime work.”

New this year were the Awards for Breatfeeding Support, which commends bosses that provide suitable facilities in the workplace for employees who breastfeed.

Towngas also triumphed in this year’s competition after wins in the previous two. Fan Kit Yee, Towngas’ head of corporate human resources, said it hired an in-house doctor to care for workers’ breastfeeding needs. “The doctor comes in two hours each day to help [new mothers],” she said.

Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was at the event, hailed the growing enthusiasm for the awards, with 2,559 recipients this year, up from 1,060 in 2011.