All working women in Hong Kong are entitled, without discrimination, to maternity leave. However, over the past 12 years and despite legal protection, PathFinders has all too often witnessed pregnant MDWs being illegally terminated from their jobs or pressured to resign, because the worker and employer simply did not know what else to do. This has resulted in many migrant mothers and children becoming unsupported and extremely vulnerable, and in need of PathFinders’ assistance.
To prevent this crisis from perpetuatingin our society, PathFinders conducted a public opinion survey to better understand the perception of the general public towards a MDW pregnancy and the key issues surrounding it.
Our key findings are:
1. Most respondents thought MDWs should receive equal maternity benefits: 73.8% of respondents surveyed said pregnant MDWs should have equal rights to maternity leave, like all working women in Hong Kong.
2. Most respondents considered a MDW pregnancy unacceptable: 64.8% of respondents felt it was unacceptable for a MDW to get pregnant during her employment contract. Half of the respondents (50.4%) reported it was because of the inconvenience it would cause the employer and their household.
3. The majority of the respondents thought a MDW should not live with her employer when on maternity leave: 74.4% of respondents disagreed with a MDW living with their employer during her maternity leave, with 43.4% stating maternity leave should be taken in the workers’ home country.
4. Most respondents liked the proposed solution of a temporary MDW to cover their worker’s maternity leave: When faced with a MDW pregnancy, most respondents indicated they would first consider exploring the possibility of hiring a temporary MDW to cover the job duties of their MDW while on maternity leave. However, this potential solution is not currently available and would require changes to the existing MDW visa policy and contractual terms before it could become a reality.
Thesefindings further confirm the long-standing dilemma and complex challenges many employers experience when faced with a MDW pregnancy. They also highlight the employers’ need for viable solutions, as well as an increased need for public education on MDW maternity rights and protection.
With the increase inmaternity leave from 10 to 14 weeks on 11 December 2020, PathFinders is deeply concerned employers will face a greater financial burden and increased stress in finding temporary support when their MDW takes maternity leave. PathFinders fears that unless employers are adequately supported with practical solutions, more expectant migrant mothers are at risk of being illegally dismissed and becoming immediately homeless, resulting in their children continuing to be some of the most vulnerable and unsupported in Hong Kong.
Full report is available here.