On 27 December 2019, the Hong Kong Labour and Welfare Bureau published the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Bill).

The Bill puts on the table the Government’s long-awaited proposal to increase statutory maternity leave under the Employment Ordinance from the current ten weeks to 14 weeks. The rate of maternity leave pay for the additional four weeks will continue at the existing rate of 80% of the employee’s average daily wages, subject to a cap of HKD36,822 per employee. Under the proposal, the Government would bear the cost for the additional four weeks and would reimburse the employer subject to proof of payment to the employee.

Certain technical amendments will also be introduced, including an update to the definition of “miscarriage” so that women who suffer a miscarriage at any time from 24 weeks after conception, will be eligible for maternity leave – rather than the current 28 weeks. In addition, a certificate of attendance will be deemed sufficient evidence for women to be entitled to claim sickness allowance for attending pre-natal examinations - as opposed to a medical certificate which is currently required.

The other existing arrangements concerning maternity protection under the Employment Ordinance will remain unchanged under the proposal.

The Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on 8 January 2020. A copy of the Bill is available here.