The Legislative Council has on 9 July 2020, passed the Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 (“the Amendment Ordinance”), which extends female employee’s statutory 10 weeks’ maternity leave to 14 weeks. The amendment will come into effect on 11 December 2020. Whilst 14 weeks is still relatively short compared to other developed countries in Europe, US and Canada, this is still a welcoming change for many parents-to-be.

Under the current law, a female employee is entitled to a continuous period of 10 weeks’ maternity leave if she is employed under a continuous contract immediately before her maternity leave commences and has given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave to her employer. The Amendment Ordinance extends this period to 14 weeks.

Other key changes to the ordinance are as follows:-

  • The current statutory rate of maternity leave pay of four-fifths of the employee’s average daily wages will be maintained for calculating the additional maternity leave pay in respect of the extension of the maternity leave, subject to a cap of HK$80,000 per employee. 
  • The definition of miscarriage is updated from “before 28 weeks of pregnancy” to 24 weeks so to entitle the employee who suffers a miscarriage to maternity leave, subject to other conditions are met.
  • A certificate of attendance issued by a medical practitioner shall be accepted as documentary proof as an alternative to a medical certificate for entitling an eligible employee to sickness allowance for any day on which the employee has attended a medical examination in relation to her pregnancy.

It is important to note that if the date of confinement falls before 11 December 2020, the current legislation applies and only 10 weeks of maternity leave is granted.

On passing, it is also worthwhile to note that a male employee is entitled to five days of paternity leave, and the Amendment Ordinance does not change this.

Employers may apply to the government for the reimbursement of the costs for the additional maternity leave. However, the Government has yet to announce details regarding the reimbursement of the amount of additional maternity leave pay required to be paid and has been paid by the employers under the Amendment Ordinance.