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Health and wellness

SCMP grants employees 14 weeks of fully paid maternity leave and doubles entitlement for new fathers

  • Company becomes first local media outlet in Hong Kong to adopt new government initiative, announced in Carrie Lam’s second policy address
  • New fathers to get leave entitlement increased to 10 days
PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2018, 11:30pm

The South China Morning Post is giving its employees four more weeks of maternity leave – on full pay – while also doubling the entitlement for new fathers, becoming the first local media outlet in Hong Kong to follow a new government initiative first announced last week.

The decision, disclosed to staff during an internal meeting on Friday, followed Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s announcement in her second policy address that statutory maternity leave in the city would be extended from 10 weeks to 14.

“The SCMP applauds Lam’s proposition in the latest policy address to extend maternity leave to 14 weeks, which aligns Hong Kong with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation and other countries in the region,” a statement, issued by the company on Friday, read.

“The company is pleased to join other prominent companies in Hong Kong in supporting this important policy change that will benefit women and families and also make Hong Kong a more competitive labour market in the region.”

With immediate effect, staff who have been on a continuous contract for not less than 40 weeks will be entitled to 14 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. It is an enhancement to the previous maternity leave entitlement of 10 weeks on full pay.

The company also announced it would extend paternity leave from five to 10 days – also on full pay – to allow new parents more time to adapt to changes in their lives.

“With our people as our greatest asset, the SCMP is enhancing support to our staff in times of major … changes, like welcoming a new member to the family,” the statement read.

“We firmly believe that family is the backbone of our people, and will continue to support our staff community.”

The new measures rolled out by the Post were more generous than the government proposals.

According to the statutory requirement, employers only need to offer working mothers 80 per cent of their wages while they are on maternity leave.

Under Lam’s proposal, the government would be fully responsible for the cost incurred by the extra four weeks of maternity leave, capped at HK$36,822 (US$4,700) per employee.

Government sources have said the extension, which was implemented immediately among civil servants, might only become effective citywide by 2022 as a reimbursement system needed to be set up.

The Legislative Council will debate the government’s proposal to extend the statutory paternity leave from three to five days next week.