Article provided by PathFinders
The new year is the perfect time to make resolutions and plans for the year(s) ahead! If you are planning to be pregnant during your employment contract in Hong Kong, you should know your maternity rights and understand the effect of this important decision on you and your child.
Your decision to have a child could have a significant impact on your employer’s household too. It is best to maintain open and honest communication with your employer, create a practical plan together that will work well for you, your child and your employer’s household.
1. You have the right to be pregnant during your employment contract in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong employment laws acknowledge that all females in employment, including foreign domestic workers, have the right to be pregnant.
2. Your employer cannot terminate your employment contract when you are pregnant.
Except in cases of serious misconduct, employers may be liable to pay a fine of up to HK$100,000 for terminating their pregnant foreign domestic workers.
3. You are entitled to the statutory 10-week maternity leave.
All women working in Hong Kong are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave. By late 2021, maternity leave could be increased to 14 weeks in Hong Kong; if the Amendment Bill passes at Legislative Council.
4. You are eligible for paid maternity leave if you have been employed for at least 40 weeks.
Maternity leave pay is 4/5 of your monthly salary. For example, if your monthly salary is HK$5,000, your monthly salary will be HK$4,000 during your maternity leave. Discuss with your employer how you can receive your pay should you decide to have your baby in your home country.
5. You need to formally notify your employer about your pregnancy.
PathFinders has come up with 10 things all foreign domestic workers should be aware of when planning to be pregnant in Hong Kong.
All female employees need to notify their employers about their pregnancy and submit a written notice of intention to take maternity leave. The formal notice should be accompanied by a medical certificate issued by a registered doctor, specifying the expected date of delivery (EDD).
It would be ideal to let your employer know ahead of time you are planning a pregnancy, and/or when you first find out you are pregnant. This will enable your employer to rearrange their schedule and plan their next steps as early as possible. For example, they could discuss with their employer about work-from-home flexibility, arrange with their extended family to mind their children, and adjust their budget to hire a part-time local domestic worker during your maternity leave.
6. You are entitled to a safe working environment.
All pregnant employees in Hong Kong are entitled to a safe working environment, which includes staying away from harsh chemicals and toxic cat litter.
Do let your employer know if you have concerns about handling your daily tasks, such as lifting heavy furniture and carrying young children. You can seek medical advice from a doctor, and produce a medical certificate if you are unfit to undertake some tasks.
Speak with your employer too if you need more breaks throughout the day so you can better manage your tasks and energy levels.
7. You can access public health services with a valid HKID card and visa.
You can utilise free antenatal and postnatal services in your district at a Maternity and Child Health Centre (MCHC), as well as affordable obstetrics service at a public hospital when your baby arrives. You will need a valid HKID and visa to access these services.
8. Your child does not necessarily become a Hong Kong permanent resident when you give birth in Hong Kong.
Giving birth in Hong Kong does not necessarily mean your child will be a Hong Kong permanent resident. In order for a child to be eligible for Hong Kong permanent residency, at least one parent needs to be a Hong Kong permanent resident.
9. Your employer is not required to pay for pregnancy-related expenses.
The helper insurance policies taken out by employers in Hong Kong exclude pregnancy and childbirth. You will need to cover all your pregnancy-related expenses, such as doctor’s fees and nappies. If you intend to deliver your baby and/or spend maternity leave in your home country, you will also need to cover your own airfare and related expenses.
10. Your employer is not obligated to provide housing for your baby.
Your employer is not required by law to provide housing for your baby. You will, therefore, need to carefully consider which country will be most suitable to deliver your baby; as well as where you and your baby should live during your maternity leave. It is also critical to think through who can provide quality care for your child when you go back to work following your maternity leave.