The Employment Ordinance was amended on 24 December 2014 introducing an entitlement of three days' of paid paternity leave for eligible fathers whose children were born on or after 27 February 2015. The leave will be paid at four-fifths of the employee's average daily wages earned during the 12 months immediately prior to when the paternity leave is taken.

In our September/October 2014 newsletter (which can be accessed via this link), we reported that the Bills' Committee had made recommendations to provide seven days' paternity leave at full pay. This was rejected by the Legislative Council as being too onerous for small and medium sized enterprises, although the government has pledged to review the position after one year.

Employers should ensure that any existing policies meet the statutory minimum criteria and provide clarification on whether any contractual paternity leave includes the statutory entitlement or is in addition to it and  there are any differences between the contractual policy and the statutory scheme such as for example, in relation to eligibility criteria, method of calculating payment, notification requirements, then the employer needs to consider how to give effect to the statutory entitlement without reducing the contractual entitlements provided by any existing policy. This is important not only from an employee relations perspective but also because failure to grant or pay statutory paternity leave pay in accordance with the Employment Ordinance is now an offence.

Key details of the entitlement are set out in the table below:

Click here to view table.