HONG KONG - Hong Kong fathers will be given three days' paternity leave for the first time despite objections from employers after officials agreed to start drafting new laws Monday.
While mothers in the Asian financial hub are allowed 10 weeks away from work and fathers in the civil service are given five days, up until now there has been no provision for paternity leave for fathers in the private sector.
But Labor Minister Matthew Cheung said the labor advisory board, which is made up of employer and employee representatives, has given the go-ahead for a three-day statutory leave period.
"I think this is a very good start. This is in line with the government's objective of promoting family-friendly employment practice," Cheung told reporters without giving a time frame for when the draft bill will be ready.
In the absence of any statutory parental leave allowances, most working fathers in Hong Kong are forced to cobble together holidays and sick-leave if they want to spend time with their newborns.
But employers have fought against the plans for leave, saying it will raise labor costs and place them under an unnecessary burden. And the Federation of Hong Kong Industries has linked the provision of paternity leave in Europe to the continent's debt crisis.
Other regions enjoy substantially greater parental benefits than in Hong Kong.
In Britain, for example, mothers can take a maximum of 52 weeks leave while fathers are entitled to two weeks, with ministers recently putting forward plans for an even more generous system.
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