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Background

We want to support our employees when they start or add to their families and to remove bias in the workplace. We recognise all different types of family unit. We challenge the view that childcare is solely a female responsibility.

This document sets out guidelines for the implementation of Swire Properties Limited parental leave policy which replaces current maternity and paternity policies. The policy applies to all full-time employees of Swire Properties who give birth (or otherwise become parents) on or after 1st July 2021, being the date on which the policy became effective.

 

Objectives

We want our people to pursue fulfilling and successful careers while raising children. Providing appropriate levels of parental leave is key to this aim. We recognise all parents regardless of (i) gender or sexual orientation, (ii) how they become parents, whether by natural birth, surrogacy or adoption and (iii) the existence of a family unit or its nature. We distinguish between primary and secondary caregivers. Parents can choose which is which, unless the choice is mandated by legislation. We have to comply with legislation about parental leave in every place where our people are based.

 

Primary and Secondary Caregivers

A primary caregiver has the principal role of caring for a child. A secondary caregiver is the other parent. In Hong Kong a birth mother will always be the primary caregiver. In other cases (e.g. adoption), parents must decide before becoming parents which of them is to be the primary caregiver. They cannot change this afterwards.

 

Scope and Eligibility

The following full-time employees are eligible for parental leave:

  • Biological parents
  • Primary caregivers who suffer a miscarriage or still birth in or after the 24th week of pregnancy are entitled to parental leave.
  • Parents who adopt children under the Adoption Ordinance (Cap. 290 of the Laws of Hong Kong) or outside Hong Kong under legislative provisions comparable to this Ordinance except children who, at the time of adoption, are (i) already living with employees or their families or (ii) biological children of partners of employees or (iii) over the age of 11.
  • Parents of children in respect of whom a parental order has been made under the Hong Kong Human Reproduction Technology Ordinance (Cap. 561 of the Laws of Hong Kong).

 

Entitlement

Eligible employees who have completed at least 40 weeks of continuous service are entitled to fully paid (or 4/5 of wage-paid whichever is higher) parental leave. Employees who have completed four weeks, but less than 40 weeks of continuous service are entitled to unpaid parental leave.

Eligibility is unaffected by the nature of the relationship between parents. They may be married or unmarried. They may be of opposite or the same genders. Single parents are eligible.

Primary caregivers are entitled to fourteen weeks parental leave which must be taken in one block. If employees want to take leave beyond the entitlement, this has to be treated as annual leave.

Secondary caregivers are entitled to four weeks parental leave. The leave must be taken in accordance with applicable statutory requirements. The balance can be taken in blocks with a minimum of 7 consecutive calendar days. Half day parental leave is not allowed.

Employees must take whatever parental leave they are required to take by law and must start it when required to do so by law. The leave is not additional to statutory parental leave and must start in accordance with applicable statutory requirements. It must in any event be taken within the period of 52 weeks after the employee becomes a parent. Public holidays and rest days are counted as part of parental leave and therefore cannot be claimed in addition to parental leave.

Inconsistencies between the policy (and these guidelines) and applicable legal requirements will be resolved in favour of the applicable legislation.

 

Notifications and Timing

Pregnant employees must give notice to Human Resources & Administration Department and their managers as soon as possible after the pregnancy is medically confirmed. A copy of medical certificate issued by a registered medical practitioner certifying the pregnancy and the expected confinement date should be sent to the Human Resources & Administration Department at least twelve (12) weeks before the expected confinement date.

Employees who adopt should provide appropriate adoption certificates. They may attend up to five adoption appointments but should notify their line managers in advance and should, where possible, cause the least possible disruption. For example, by attending appointments outside core working hours or at the beginning or end of the day.

In all cases, employees should submit the leave application through the online platform for their department manager’s approval at least four (4) weeks before it starts. A copy of a valid certificate(s) should be attached via the platform as supporting or as soon as practicable. With the approval obtained, parental leave for primary caregivers may start at any time between two and four weeks before the expected date of a natural birth. Employees wishing to change the start date of parental leave should give as much notice as practicable and preferably one month’s notice.

 

Returning to Work

Employees should communicate with their managers about the timing of their return to work. They should do this at least four weeks (or as mutually agreed with their managers) before the intended return date. They are encouraged to discuss difficulties and concerns with their line managers and/or the HR&A department. They also have access to the confidential employee assistance helpline. Appropriate support will be made available. Employees are encouraged to keep in touch before returning to work to facilitate smooth transition.

 

Review

We will review this policy from time to time as appropriate.


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