延长产假和全额支薪，表面看增加了企业成本，但必须看到，良好的生育福利体现企业对员工的关怀，增强员工对企业的归属感，有利提升工作效率，为公司创造更大价值，更重要的是为香港未来发展提供人力资源。本港不少大型企业已主动提供比政府规定更长的产假，藉此增加对优秀人才的吸引力，树立良好的企业文化和企业形象。政府可以研究为延长产假的企业提供适当补贴，减轻中小企业的压力。 （标题为编辑所加） （摘录自香港文汇报社评8-3-2018）
Family-friendly policy can enhance employees' efficiency
【译文】Hong Kong is among the most developed economies in the world, yet maternity welfare and protection in the city is lagging far behind her global counterparts. The implementation of fully paid and extended maternity leave, along with other improvements, could encourage childbearing and thereby relieve the pressure of an ageing population. Likewise, the enhanced benefits could provide a boost to employee morale and thus provide stimulus to the economy.
In the various attempts to cope with rapidly ageing populations, first world governments around the globe have unanimously resorted to expanding maternity leave. The Hong Kong government has long encouraged parenthood in the society, however the corresponding policies have not been optimised and a concerted effort is clearly lacking. Working women in Hong Kong are currently entitled to a statutory 10-week maternity leave which is paid at 80 per cent of their salary, and can start up to four weeks before the expected delivery date. On the other hand, men are entitled to 3 days of paternity leave at 80 per cent of normal pay since 2015.
In vivid contrast to Hong Kong, working women in countries such as France, Germany, South Korea, Singapore and China all enjoy fully paid maternity leaves, most of which are also longer in duration. For instance, the province that has the shortest maternity leave in China still boast 128 days of leave, while in the UK it could span as long as a whole year.
Statutory maternity leave pay in Hong Kong was last raised from two thirds of normal salary to 80 per cent in 1995, and has not been reviewed again for the past 22 years. Expanding maternity leave and boosting parenthood welfare are going to be inevitable.
Faced with an increasingly aged population and its consequential socio-economic impact, pro-natalist policies are the local government's best instrument to both alleviate the said problems and enhance competitiveness. There are many factors that affect desire for childbearing, such as high pressure from work, income polarisation, and unaffordable home prices. It is very unlikely that these factors can be changed in the short term.
Maternity leave extension, on the contrary, could achieve results relatively quickly. The government and the private sector should step up their efforts in its implementation.
Expanded and fully paid maternity leave might seem to be an extra cost for businesses at first glance. However, one must also understand that a family-friendly policy could show how the company care for its employees, thus enhancing their sense of belonging, efficiency and productivity. More importantly is that, in the long run, better parental leave policies could help provide human resources to Hong Kong's development in the future.
In an attempt to attract better candidates in the labour market and build up a better corporate image, many large enterprises in Hong Kong have already rolled out maternity leave policies that are more generous when compared with the statutory requirements.
The government could explore the possibilities of subsidising companies that agree to expand parental leave benefits, so as to ease the burden on small and medium-sized enterprises.■Jeffrey Tse [email@example.com]
1. fertility rate
2. population ageing
3. paternity leave
5. corporate social responsibility