Important update: in her 2018 Policy Address on 10 October 2018, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, confirmed the Government's intention to increase Hong Kong's statutory paternity leave from 3 days to 5 days, as it had been announced earlier. This is now in force since January 2019!
Here is your Healthy Matters guide to everything you should know about paternal leave in Hong Kong, from eligibility to paternity leave pay calculation.
How long is paternity leave in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong's statutory paternity leave is 5 days (it increased from 3 days in January 2019). While this is the legal minimum, some employers may offer more: 14 days is among the most generous paternity leaves seen in Hong Kong.
Am I eligible to take paternity leave in Hong Kong?
To be eligible for paternity leave pay, you have to fulfill the following requirements:
- You have to be the child's father
- You have to have worked under a continuous contract of at least 40 weeks immediately before the day of paternity leave; and
- You need to provide a birth certificate with your name cited as the child's father to your employer within 12 months after the first day of your paternity leave (or within 6 months after cessation of employment). If required by your employer, you will also have to submit a written signed statement stating that you are the child's father, the name of the child's mother, the expected due date or the actual date of delivery (if the child has been born).
Do I have to take all my paternity leave days in one go?
No, paternity leave can be taken on either consecutive or non-consecutive days.
When can I take my paternity leave in Hong Kong?
You may take paternity leave any time during the 4 weeks before the expected delivery date and 10 weeks after the delivery date.
When should I give notice of paternity leave in Hong Kong?
You need to give notice to your employer of your intention to take paternal leave at least 3 months before the expected date of delivery, though the exact date of leave is not required at this stage. While you need to let your employer know the exact dates you will be taking at some point, the law does not stipulate how long in advance you should give such notification. Babies don't always arrive on schedule!
If you fail to give 3 months' notice to your employer, you must notify your employer of your paternal leave date at least 5 days before that date.
Do I need to be married to the mother to be entitled to the statutory paternity leave?
No, you are not required to be married to the mother of your newborn child to be entitled to Hong Kong's paternity leave.
Apart from my child's birth certificate, can my employer ask for anything else?
Yes, the employer is entitled to request the below information in a written statement:
- the name of the child's mother;
- the expected/actual date of delivery of the child; and
- that you are the child's father.
How is my paternity leave pay calculated?
The daily rate of paternity leave pay is calculated at 80% of your average daily wages earned in the 12-month period preceding the day of paternal leave. If you were employed for a period between 40 weeks and 12 months, the calculation is based on such shorter period.
When will I receive my paternity leave pay?
If you have provided the required document before your paternity leave, you must be paid not later than the day on which you are next paid.
If you provide the required document after your paternity leave, you must be paid not later than the day on which you are next paid after the document is given to the employer.
Why is paternity leave important?
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) does not make specific recommendations to governments on an ideal length of paternity leave but highlights the well-founded research that paternal leave, child development and men's take-up of family responsibilities are tightly related.
In the early days post-birth, fathers on paternity leave can take on family responsibilities and help care for a new baby while the mother rests and recovers from labor. Additionally, numerous studies have shown the link between paternity leave, early interaction with fathers and successful child development.
How does Hong Kong compare to other countries?
In 2013, the ILO reported that 79 (of 167 for which they have data) countries across the world had paternity leave, 71 of which were paid. Hong Kong stacks up fairly unfavorably when compared both regional and global comparable countries. While Japan has an impressive policy of 52 weeks of paid paternity leave, only 2-3% of Japanese working fathers take advantage. We were unable to find statistics on how many men actually take their three days leave but we suspect by the time the baby is born and the family returns home, three days of paternity leave is up!
|Country||Time||Percentage of wage covered|
|Hong Kong||5 days||80%|
|China||Varies by region|
|Japan||52 weeks (parental leave;|
2-3% uptake for fathers)
|66.7% for the first 180 days;|
50% for the second 180 days
|Republic of Korea||3 days||Unpaid|
|Singapore||7 days||100% up to a ceiling|
|Comparable OECD countries|
|Australia||14 days||100% up to a ceiling|
|Varies per province||55% up to a ceiling|
|France||11 working days||100% up to a ceiling|
|United Kingdom||14 consecutive days||Flat rate benefit or 90% of the average weekly earnings, whichever is less|
(varies by state)
|No paternity leave||-|
Learn more from Hong Kong's Labour Department.
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This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and not sponsored. It was reviewed by Mr. Eddie Look, Partner at Tanner De Witt Solicitors, a leading law firm in Hong Kong with practice areas including employment law.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.