Our topic this week is discussing maternity leaves in our respective countries. I have to say there isn’t much of one in Hong Kong, but I guess we can’t complain too much since there is some. I moved to Hong Kong in 2008 without any intentions of worrying about getting pregnant and then thinking about maternity benefits, but then it happened. It was never discussed when I was negotiating my work contract so I never worried about it. So, when I found myself pregnant, I needed to ask about what happens since in Hong Kong, at my job, I was considered an employee. In Canada, as a massage therapist, I was self employed so I would have had to arrange my own maternity leave.
I actually had no idea I was entitled to maternity benefits until everyone kept asking me about it so I was given some guidance to take a look at the labour policies in Hong Kong which can be found quite easily in the HK labour department website. I was told by my employer that I wasn’t entitled to maternity leave because of the type of work I was doing, but I found out I was! So I approached my employer again and asked for them to look into it. It took them some time, but in the end, they found out that I was entitled to 10 weeks paid leave where the pay is about 75% of your daily wages. Because my company was small, they requested that I take a little bit less and then I could take a bit longer leave which I agreed to. I ended up taking about 4 months of leave which most was unpaid, but I was very happy to take the extra time to spend with my new baby.
When I returned to work, I decided I didn’t want to work full time anymore and went part time so that the next time I did get pregnant, which I did, I wouldn’t be entitled to the maternity benefits. This was okay with me as I pretty much decided that I would take an indefinite leave of absence.
Fast forward to today where my second child is now 1 year old and my first just over 2. I’m grateful that I can spend more time with my kids at home and not have to race back to work. I’m jealous of my Canadian mama friends who can usually take a full year off before heading back to work.