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3 days for paternity leave

The three-day paternity leave with 80 percent pay will likely take effect in March, the labor chief said after the Employment Amendment Bill was passed yesterday by the Legislative Council.

The bill was passed with 52 in favor and one against.

No one abstained.

But lawmakers voted down pan- democrats' move to increase the leave to seven days with pay. Civil servants have enjoyed five days' paternity leave with full pay since April 1, 2012.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said he hoped the three-day paternity leave for the private sector would be implemented in March.

The bill to grant three days paternity leave is supported by the pro- establishment camp but a number of pro- democratic lawmakers proposed that the leave should comprise seven days, with full pay. Cheung had warned before the vote that if the seven-day paternity leave was approved, the government would be forced to withdraw the bill.

"Increasing the number of paternity paid leave days to seven, changing it to fully-paid leave, or forbidding employers from dismissing employees who are on paternity leave, will seriously undermine the cooperation between the labor and business sectors, which has been well-established through negotiations," he said.

"This will have a far-reaching negative effect on the relationship between the labor and business sectors."

Some pan-democrats shouted "shame on you!" at Cheung.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said: "How does the Legco work if this [threatening action] continues?

"In the long run, the legislature and administration will hardly establish communications.

"This would lead to a failure in administration." Lawmakers from the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions and Federation of Trade Unions did not vote for the pan- democrats' amendment.

FTU's Wong Kwok-hing, while carrying a baby boy doll, said that the three-day policy can be "pocketed first."

FTU vice chairwoman Chan Yuen- han said people could criticize her for abstaining, but could not say she betrayed workers as there are many ways to fight for their welfare.

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan criticized catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, calling him "inhumane" for requesting employees inform their employers two days in advance of taking paternity leave.

Wong and other pan-democrats said they "voted with tears" and were disappointed with the bill's passage.

Source: Hong Kong Standard