Asia-Pacific lags global average when it comes to maternity leave

Author: PM editorial | Date: 14 Sep 2016

Asian countries are less likely to offer maternity leave above the minimum statutory requirement, but lead the way on paternity leave

Countries across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region are less likely to offer maternity leave benefits that go above the statutory minimum required compared with the global average, according to a new report.
Mercer’s 2016 Global Parental Leave report revealed that 38 per cent of companies across APAC exceed the requirements, compared to 44 per cent on average globally. Hong Kong was the highest performing country in Asia in terms of the leave it offers new mothers, and came fifth in the global table.
While statutory requirements vary by country, 56 per cent of companies in Hong Kong exceeded the requirements, compared with 36 per cent in Vietnam, 25 per cent in Thailand and Malaysia, 21 per cent in Singapore and 18 per cent in the Philippines. Indonesia was the least like to offer excess benefits (13 per cent).
However APAC was ahead when it came to paternity benefits, with 41 per cent providing more than the statutory minimum requirement, compared to the global average of 38 per cent. It is worth noting that many countries do not have any requirements for paternity leave, so any benefit would be considered above the requirement.
India was the highest performing country in the region (85 per cent), and fifth globally, compared with 55 per cent in Hong Kong, 44 per cent in Malaysia and Thailand, 34 per cent in Singapore, 23 per cent in Vietnam and 0 per cent in the Philippines.
The report found that businesses across APAC are also looking to increase the number of paternity days they provide. Forty-eight per cent of companies in Thailand are examining this option, compared to 33 per cent in Malaysia, 25 per cent in Singapore and 21 per cent in Hong Kong. The global average was 67 per cent.
The global average for adoption leave was 29 per cent offering above requirements, although this practice was the lowest in APAC (22 per cent). Family care leave appeared to rank more highly in terms of importance, with 45 per cent of companies in Malaysia offering above the minimum requirement, 44 per cent in Singapore and 39 per cent in Hong Kong.
The report said that factors influencing companies’ decisions to provide leave above the minimum requirement included the generosity of their country’s statutory requirement and the competitiveness of the job market. More and more organisations are expanding their parental leave policies to accommodate the needs of their workforce, including non-traditional types of leave, said Mercer, such as parental leave for part-time employees, time off - separate from sick leave - to recover from a miscarriage, and family care leave (which can apply to children, spouses, parents, parents-in-law or siblings).
Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business, said more progressive companies are acknowledging that eldercare is as important as childcare, particularly as the population ages.
“Moreover, they understand that giving women more responsibilities in the workplace is only part of the resolve to bring about gender equality. Initiatives like paternity and family care leave not only give both genders the ability to care for children and parents, but are also valuable tools for attracting and retaining talent,” she added.