Everything You need to know about Maternity Leave in Hong Kong

By Will Elton, Updated: 2023-01-18 (published on 2019-01-15)

A period/days of approved absence for a female employee granted for the purpose of giving birth and taking care of infant children. Maternity leave may last anywhere from several weeks to a period of months depending on the organization, and may be paid or unpaid depending on policies. A certain amount of maternity leave may also be legally mandated for some nations, states, or municipalities depending upon countries rules. 

What is maternity leave Hong Kong ?

Under Employment Ordinance, Cap. 57,  a female employee is eligible for maternity leave if she is employed under a continuous contract immediately before the commencement of her maternity leave and having given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave to the employer.

One can entitled to the following periods of paid maternity leave:

  • a continuous period of 10 weeks’ maternity leave;
  • if confinement occurs later than the expected date, a further period equal to the number of days from the day after the expected date of confinement to the actual date of confinement;  
  • an additional period of leave for not more than four weeks on the grounds of illness or disability due to the pregnancy or confinement.

Paid maternity leave 

An employee is eligible for 10 weeks’ paid leave as maternity leave in Hong Kong in following condition:

1) she has been employed under a continuous contract for NOT less than 40 weeks immediately before the commencement of scheduled maternity leave;

(2) she has given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave to her employer after the pregnancy has been confirmed, such as by presenting a medical certificate confirming her pregnancy to the employer; and

(3) she has produced a medical certificate specifying the expected date of confinement if so required by her employer.

In Case of continuous contract but less than 40 weeks, the employee is eligible for 10 weeks’ maternity leave WITHOUT PAY if the employee has given notice of pregnancy. 10 weeks of maternity leave is payable at rate of normal pay.

Rate can be calculated as sum equivalent to four-fifths of the average daily wages earned by an employee in the 12-month period preceding the first day of the maternity leave.

If employee is employed to less than 12 months,the calculation shall be based on the shorter period.

Note : employer who fails to grant maternity leave or pay is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.

Starting maternity leave by pregnant employee.

The pregnant employee can start her maternity leave before 4 weeks the expected date of confinement or may decide according to agreement with employer.

Employment Protection: Employer cannot dismiss a pregnant woman

In Hong Kong, employer is prohibited from dismissing a pregnant employee, if employee is confirmed pregnant by a medical certificate. Employee has employment protection from her pregnancy date to date on which she is due to return to work upon the expiry of her maternity leave if

1. the pregnant employee has been employed under a continuous contract, and

2. If the employer has received notice of pregnancy.

If before notifying pregnancy notice to employer, a pregnant employee is dismissed by her employer then her employer must withdraw the dismissal or the notice of dismissal in case she immediately notify her pregnancy.

The employer might dismiss a pregnant employee under following condition:

  • the pregnant employee is summarily dismissed due to her serious misconduct that is justifiable or
  • where it has been expressly agreed that the employment is on probation, the employee is dismissed for reasons other than pregnancy during the probation period of not more than 12 weeks.

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The employer is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $100,000. Besides, the employer is required to pay the following sums of money to the dismissed employee within 7 days after the day of termination:

1. payment in lieu of notice;

2. a further sum equivalent to one month’s wages as compensation*; and

3. 10 weeks’ maternity leave pay if, but for the dismissal, she would have been entitled to such payment.

Prohibition of Assignment of Heavy, Hazardous or Harmful Work

Pregnancy is critical situation where women should not perform  unfitness to handle heavy works. So employment ordinance prohibit Assignment of Heavy, Hazardous or Harmful Work to pregnant woman.  If the pregnant employee is performing such work, the employer shall within 14 days after receiving such request remove her from that work.

An employer who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with the above requirements is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a fine of $50,000.

Medical Certificates of Pregnancy

A pregnant employee shall submit medical certificates to her employee is employer in applicable situation before discussing about maternity leave Hong Kong . The certificate should be from medical certificates issued by registered medical practitioners, registered Chinese medicine practitioners or registered midwives

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Tags: Hong Kong Law

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