From 2020, Hong Kong working mothers-to-be will have maternity leave increased to 14 weeks, up from the current 10 weeks. Civil servants, however, will be given the increased benefit from next week.

Employers may apply to the government for reimbursement of the additional four weeks’ statutory maternity leave pay, which will be capped at HK$36,822 (US$4,698) as the Hong Kong government will pick up the bill for the extra time off, Oriental Daily reported.

Employees who earn HK$50,000 or less a month will receive four-fifths of their salary for the additional four weeks’ leave.

In Hong Kong, working mothers are currently paid 80 per cent of their wages while on maternity leave.

Extra paid leave will be given to civil servants who give birth from next Wednesday onwards.

The rest of the working population will have to wait for the issue to be tabled with the Labour Department and the Labour Advisory Board. The new law is expected to be passed by the Legislative Council in 2020.

The Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the initiative in her Policy Address on Wednesday and said she had “an extra responsibility to devote efforts in promoting women’s development”, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

Lam said the government will also strengthen services provided by childcare centers and home-based child carers, to allow more mothers to take up or stay in their jobs.