HSBC, Europe’s largest bank and one of Hong Kong’s biggest financial services employers, said it was increasing the number of holidays for employees to help them improve their work-life balance in a city notorious for long working hours. From January 1 next year, about 11,000 employees, or half of HSBC’s workforce in the city, will see their annual leave increase from 22 to 24 days as the bank adjusts its leave policy for certain grades of staff. HSBC employees typically enjoy between 18 to 30 days of leave, depending on their rank. “Employees are our greatest asset. We recognise fostering and building on a culture that helps our people balance their personal and professional commitments will deliver strong benefits for both the bank and our employees,” said Diana Cesar, chief executive of HSBC in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong operations contributed 50.3 per cent of the adjusted profit before tax of US$2.98 billion in HSBC’s third-quarter earnings in 2018. The bank was giving its employees more days off so that they could seek a better work-life balance and remain competitive as an employer in Hong Kong, HSBC said. Under Hong Kong’s employment ordinance, employees are entitled to seven days of annual leave per year of continuous service. A day of leave is accrued for each additional year of employment, up to a maximum of 14 days for nine years of service and above. The bank is also increasing its maternity leave and for those who choose to adopt from 14 to 16 weeks, with full pay. About half of its employees were women, the bank said. Parents returning from leave are also entitled to a two-week flexible return period, where they can work shorter hours.