In 2020, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council voted to extend the amount of statutory maternity leave available to female employees. The new rules are now in effect.

The maternity extension was passed on 9 July 2020 as part of Employment (Amendment Ordinance) 2020, which came into effect in Hong Kong on 11 December 2020. Under the previous ordinance, maternity leave was capped at 10 weeks for female employees: the new ordinance extends that allowance by 4 weeks, to a total of 14 weeks of statutory maternity leave.

Implementing Extended Maternity Leave

The 4-week extension should be taken continuously by the employee once the existing 10-week allowance has ended.

The rate of pay calculation for the extended period has not changed, and remains four fifths (80%) of the employee’s average daily wage - capped at $80,000 per employee. Employers should pay employees their four weeks of additional maternity pay (weeks 11 to 14) on a normal pay day. After employees have been paid, eligible employers may apply to the Hong Kong government for reimbursement under the Labour Department’s Reimbursement of Maternity Leave Pay Scheme.

An employee’s eligibility for the 4-week extension depends on the date on which her leave started. Employees are entitled to the 14-week allowance if their leave started on or after the effective date of the ordinance (11 December 2020). If an employee started her maternity leave before the effective date, she is eligible for the original 10 weeks of leave allowance.

Ordinance Details

In addition to extending statutory maternity leave, the Amendment Ordinance makes further changes to pregnancy rules for employers and employees:

  • Under the ordinance, the definition of “miscarriage” is updated from “before 28 weeks” to “before 24 weeks of pregnancy”. The change means that employees who suffer a miscarriage from 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards are still entitled to leave (as long as other conditions are met). The amended miscarriage rules apply to employees that commence their maternity leave on or after the effective date of the ordinance.
  • The ordinance also allows employees to submit a certificate of attendance from a medical professional for any sickness allowance they take for pregnancy related medical examinations. This provision is also applicable to employees from the effective date of the ordinance.

Paternity Leave

Under the new ordinance, male employees may begin their paternity leave at any point during the four weeks prior to the expected birth of a child and up to 14 weeks after the date of delivery.

If the date of delivery of a child falls before the effective date of the ordinance, male employees must take their paternity leave from four weeks prior to the expected date of birth and up to 10 weeks after the date of delivery.

Male employees paternity leave entitlement remains 5 days.

For more information on Hong Kong’s social security benefits and payroll process, browse activpayroll’s Hong Kong Global Insight Guide.

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