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The Reimbursement of Maternity Leave Pay Scheme goes live

  • Hong Kong
  • Employment law

09-04-2021

Overview

Statutory maternity leave (“ML”) has increased from 10 weeks to 14 weeks from December 11, 2020 as we have discussed in our earlier update.

Employers are required to first pay for the extra 4 weeks (i.e. the 11th to 14th weeks) on the normal pay day. Starting from 1 April 2021, employers can apply to the Reimbursement of Maternity Leave Pay Scheme (the “RMLP Scheme”) to seek reimbursement for this additional 4 weeks of ML pay.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the RMLP Scheme, there are four main requirements:

  • (1) the concerned employee has been employed by the employer and entitled to ML and ML pay under the Employment Ordinance (“EO”);
  • (2) the employee has taken ML and the employer has already paid to the concerned employee ML pay for the entire 14 weeks;
  • (3) the employee’s confinement occurred on or after December 11, 2020; and
  • (4) the additional 4 weeks of ML pay has not been and will not be covered by any other government funding.

What about miscarriage?

  • The Employment (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 has redefined “miscarriage” under the EO from “before 28 weeks of pregnancy” to “before 24 weeks of pregnancy”;
  • Accordingly, a female employee whose child being unfortunately incapable of survival after being born at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy will still be entitled to ML pay;
  • Thus, the employer may still apply to the RMLP Scheme for reimbursement of the 11th to 14th weeks’ ML pay if the other requirements set out above can be met.

The amount of reimbursement

The current statutory rate of ML pay (i.e. four-fifths of average daily wages) will apply to the additional 4 weeks of ML payable, subject to a cap of $80,000 per employee.

What if employers provide more favourable maternity benefits?

If employers provide maternity benefits more favourable than the statutory requirements, the RMLP Scheme will only reimburse up to the amount of ML pay under the EO.

Application deadline

The employer should submit the application no later than either of the following, whichever is later:

  • 3 months after the last day of the concerned employee’s 14-weeks' ML under the EO; or
  • 3 months after the commencement date of the RMLP Scheme (on 1 April 2021).

How to apply

Upon paying the concerned employee all statutory ML pay (including the 4 additional weeks), the employer may submit an application for each employee either via:

  • the Online Portal; or
  • email, fax, post or in-person to the RMLP Scheme service centre.

What documents are required for the application?

  • (1) Employer Application Form
  • (2) Employee Declaration Form: the employer should arrange the employee to complete the form prior to the commencement of her ML. Failure to submit a completed declaration form is not fatal to the application, but will however increase the processing time.
  • (3) Payment proof of the 14 weeks’ ML pay: third-party payment proof such as bank transaction records, bank statements, or cheques with relevant bank clearing record should be provided.
  • (4) Proof of a bank account for the receipt of reimbursement: monthly bank statement or passbook.
  • (5) Registration / identity document of the applicant: Business Registration Certificate; the relevant registration document (for organizations without a business registration certificate); or the employer applicant’s HKID or passport (for individuals without a business registration certificate).
  • (6) Proof of employee’s pregnancy: birth certificate; or medical certificate specifying the expected confinement date; or certificate of attendance for medical examination regarding pregnancy.

Timeline

Notification of application results and reimbursement payment (for successful applications) will generally be issued within 15 working days upon the receipt of the application and all the required documents. The concerned employee will also be notified for successful applications.

RMLP Scheme will select some applications and conduct audit checks, requiring them to provide more details (e.g. payment proof of the 12 months’ wages immediately preceding the commencement of the ML, the relevant employment contract, etc.). If an employer fails to provide the same as requested, the RMLP Scheme may reject the application and require such employer to repay any reimbursement received.