Extension of maternity leave may deepen rift between employers, FDHs — PathFinders
The additional four weeks on top of the existing maternity leave may dampen an already strained relationship between pregnant migrant domestic workers and their respective employers, a non-governmental organisation said Friday.
The response came after the Labour Department (LD) announced that the amendments to the Employment Ordinance extending the statutory maternity leave to 14 weeks will take effect next Friday.
PathFinders HK, a group protecting migrant domestic workers’ maternity rights, said the additional weeks of maternity leave puts pressure on employers to keep a domestic worker.
“Faced with the financial stress of maternity leave payments and expensive temporary domestic help—especially for employers with young children and elderly parents—pregnant migrant mothers are all too often pressured to resign or illegally dismissed,” PathFinders CEO Catherine Gurtin told Hong Kong News in a message.
In a statement Friday, the LD said the current statutory rate of maternity leave pay will stay at four-fifths of the employee’s average daily wages, subject to a cap of $80,000 per employee.
Gurtin said this extension may have a negative effect on migrant mothers and their children.
“We fear without immediate systemic and policy change to support employers with viable solutions, we will likely see more expectant migrant mothers becoming unemployed and homeless, and as a result, their children remaining some of the most vulnerable and unsupported in Hong Kong,” she said.
Any employed woman, including migrant workers, may legally get pregnant in the city. Pregnancy expenses for non-eligible persons can go from HK$39,000 to HK$90,000—putting a financial strain on domestic workers who only earn HK$4,630 minimum per month.
However, the situation is often frowned upon by employers, forcing many domestic workers to leave or to be illegally terminated.
But the Labour Department said employers may apply to the government for full reimbursement of the additional four weeks’ maternity leave pay which is required to be paid and has been paid under the ordinance.