The Hong Kong Legislative Council has finally introduced laws to entitle private sector male employees to paternity leave.  From 27 February 2015, male employees will be entitled to take up to three days of paternity leave in recognition of the birth of their child. An employee may take paternity leave at any time between four weeks prior to the expected date of delivery of the child and 10 weeks following the actual date of birth.

In order to be eligible for statutory paternity leave, an employee must be the father of the child, and be employed under a continuous employment contract immediately prior to taking the paternity leave.

To claim the entitlement, the employee must notify his employer of his intention to take paternity leave at least three months before the expected delivery date or notify his employer at least five days prior to each intended date of leave.

An employee is entitled to be paid for a period of paternity leave if he has been employed under a continuous employment contract for not less than 40 weeks immediately prior to taking the leave and he provides his employer with proof of the child’s birth and his status as the father of the child. The daily rate of paternity leave pay is 80% of the employee’s average daily wages calculated over the previous 12 months or, if the employee has been employed for less than 12 months, that shorter period.

It is an offence for an employer to fail to grant paternity leave to an employee or to fail to pay an employee for paternity leave where required. Employers found guilty of these offences will be liable to a fine of HK$50,000.

In light of the introduction of statutory paternity leave for private sector employees, all employers should review and/or update their relevant policies and employment contracts to reflect the new provisions. Employers may also want to consider running training sessions for their employees on the new paternity leave laws.