Hong Kong paternity leave increase to come into force next Friday but unions and pan-democrats want it extended further
- The new allotted leave is five days instead of the current three. Labour activists want seven or even 14 days in the next review
- Expectant fathers must give three months’ notice to their employers before they take their leave
New fathers in Hong Kong will enjoy more paid time off with their newborn children starting from next Friday, when mandated paternity leave is extended from three to five days.
The government announced the starting date of the extended paternity leave on Friday as unions said the leave should be further increased to seven or 14 days in the next review.
A spokesperson from the Labour Department reminded male employees of the statutory requirement to give three-months’ notice to employers before taking the leave.
For those who have applied for the three-day paternity leave before the extension takes effect, the spokesperson said employees would need to give five days’ notice to their bosses before they can take the extra two days.
Last October, the city’s legislature raised the statutory entitlement to five days, after the pan-democratic camp’s amendment to further increase it to seven days was voted down.
Labour minister Law Chi-kwong had threatened to withdraw the entire proposal if the counterproposals were passed.
Unionists and democrats are now eyeing the review next year.
Labour Advisory Board member Bill Tang Ka-piu said the government should consider giving new fathers seven days of leave when it reviews the law next year.
He would also raise the suggestion with the Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po during a consultation session on the upcoming budget on Saturday.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said paternity leave should be increased to 14 days, saying the government is studying to increase maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks.
“The government recognises the need of mothers to take extra leave to recover and spend more time with their children,” he said.
But Leung said fathers should also be given more time to take good care of their spouses.
Liberal Party lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan warned further increases in paternity leave and other pro-labour policies could put pressure on businesses and eventually harm the economy.
He reminded the government had just endorsed the increase in the minimum wage from HK$34.5 to HK$37.5 starting from May 1.
Tang however responded that the extra cost involved would only be minimal to businesses.
“No father would seriously abuse the system or have another child because he’s got two more days, but this could really help build a healthier family,” he said.