Executive Council | Proposal would extend maternity leave, resolve overlapping holidays

The Executive Council has completed its discussion on the proposed amendments for the labor relations law and minimum wage law, deciding to establish paternity leave, holiday compensation for overlapping holidays, a minimum wage increase and more days of paid maternity leave, among other reforms.

Fathers can take five days of paid paternity leave before the birth of their child or within 30 days of their child being born. To be eligible, fathers must have been in an employment relationship with their employer for more than one year.

It has been suggested that maternity leave should increase from the current 56 days to 70 days. The regulation has a transitional period. Mothers who give birth to a child within three years of the law coming into effect and have been in an employment relationship with their employer for more than one year will be entitled to 56 days of paid maternity leave provided by their employer. The SAR government will compensate mothers for an additional 14 days maximum, providing mothers with 70 days of paid maternity leave all together.

The government compensation will only be afforded to local residents. Employers will be responsible for all 70 days of maternity leave of non-local workers.

The amendment proposes that employers should compensate employees with a day of leave when a public holiday overlaps with a mandatory holiday. When a weekend and a public holiday overlap the day will be regarded as just a mandatory holiday, in which case employees should be compensated with a day off within 30 days.

Furthermore, approximately 30,000 workers will benefit from the minimum wage increase. There are 55,400 people in Macau, including non-locals, who are earning less than the newly proposed minimum wage. Of them, about 25,400 are domestic helpers.

It has been proposed that compensation for working on a mandatory holidays should be made within three months, instead of 30 days as it is currently.

Compensation for work on weekends or public holidays can also be decided based on written agreements between employers and employees. This compensation can either be financial or consist of compensation days.

Once the amendment is passed, it will come into effect as soon as it is published in the government official gazette.

It has been proposed that the minimum wage be increased to MOP32 per hour, or MOP6,656 per month, MOP1,536 per week, and MOP256 per day. 

The hourly salary for overtime work is not allowed to be less than the minimum wage, according to the proposal.

Domestic helpers and workers with disabilities are, once again, noticeably excluded from the minimum wage policy.
“The government, when reviewing domestic helpers’ employment applications, will list requirements for the approval in view of the market situation, so that domestic helpers are [protected] with a salary criterion as well,” said Ng Wai Han, deputy director of the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL).

According to Ng, the government, when reviewing a domestic helper’s employment application, requires a minimum salary of MOP3,000 for employers. She also said that the median wage of Macau’s domestic helpers is MOP4,100.

“Domestic helpers’ employment is not like in other [industries] because it does not involve [business] operation,” Ng said. She further said that domestic helpers’ employment is not a business operation which makes profits.

“Some workers with a disability might have already been paid with a salary higher than the minimum wage,” Ng added. 

Most of the workers benefiting from the increase in minimum wage will be those working in the manufacturing industry.

“[The] manufacturing industry will see the greatest impact because the increase is 2.8 percent, followed by the catering industry, in which the increase is 1.93 percent. Wholesale and retail industry will see a 0.82 percent increase, whereas the hotel industry will see 0.05 percent,” said Wong Chi Hong, director of the DSAL.

The bills will be voted on at the Legislative Assembly in the near future.

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