Paternity leave will leave you clutching at straws later

Saturday 24 September 2011, 11.19pm HKT


MY EYEBALLS just rolled in their sockets when I heard it.

The late news on telly last night had an item about paternity leave — and whether Hong Kong should have paternity leave since (and I quote the anchor) “the government has been considering it for some years.”

Oh, give me break, Mr [W]Anchorman. The government has NEVER considered it until very, very recently. Paternity leave is The New Black — oh-so-terribly sociologically and fashionably in line with a more caring, equal, sustainable community.

Where have we heard those words before? I asked myself, eyeballs still rolling in their sockets.

We’ve got statutory maternity leave for at least a quarter-century. Notwithstanding the law, lots of bosses (male and female in equal numbers) just charge right ahead and give the luckless, pregnant employee the sack for being in that male-induced condition. And if she’s got off lucky, then it’s more usually pay docked for the whole 40 weeks of pregnancy. Or try permanent salary reduction, whichever works best for The Boss.

Bosses like that clearly don’t have parents or are not parents themselves, which are the only two possible reasons to account for their behaviour that I could think of right now without air conditioning.

(Srsly, I don’t know why they do those highly antisocial things of theirs. I’m not a bowl of jelly or come from a family of psychopaths. So I just don’t know how abnormal people think.)

Bosses (male and female) sack preggers all the time here, mainly because it’s in our nature as a ‘laissez-faire’ (lazy fairy?) capitalistic culture. But, actually, it is more because bosses often can get off scott-free because our wonderfully obsequious, servile Labour Tribunal:

  1. is sodding useless at its job, and
  2. has a highly noticeable tendency to side with the employer class.

More often than not, employers are the chaps and chappesses with hard cash, so who’s to say solidarity with the winning side isn’t a winning strategy?

JUST A PLOY, MA’AM

You idiots, the paternity leave is just a ploy. It’s oneupmanship and/or gamesmanship worthy of Stephen Potter.

Maternity leave in Hong Kong is 10 weeks — four before delivery date, six after. It’s measly, it’s mean-spirited, but it’ll do for bearing your next misbegotten generation.

Srsly, it’s serious business. The mum-to-be (and her supine ‘partner’) knows a couple of things that have headed (and still heading) her way:

  • She’s already run the gauntlet of being threatened with dismissal.
  • Pay docked ever since she started looking a bit deformed.
  • Daily expenses will skyrocket the hell out of solar orbit at Warp Speed 3 at the moment of hospital admission.
  • Warp Speed 5 to 9 expenses when the baby comes out.
  • Permanently reduced wages when she gets back to work.
  • Be sacked for being in breach of company confidentiality clause for telling the hospital she’s on maternity leave.

Srsly, it’s serious business. Wikicyclopediatrica says:

“Hong Kong has one of the world’s lowest birth rates—0.9 per woman of child-bearing age, far below the replacement rate of 2.1. With just 1,032 babies born in 2009 to every 1,000 fertile women, it is estimated that 26.8% of the population will be aged 65 or more in 2033, up from 12.1% in 2005.” (Wikipedia)

You and I could gem up umpteen reasons and causalities (and maybe ‘casualties’ too, no?) for our failing/falling birthrate. The real damper is with this maternity leave thingy. You get pregnant, you get fired. In an expensive town. Would you dare get pregnant?

NEWS FOR YOU, BRO

Here’s the reality check about paternity leave currently “under sincere and resolute consideration by the government”:

Once the menfolk get paternity leave, the maternity leave
will most likely be shaved down.

If in doubt, WOK it out! Eventually, the wok will cook you through and through if you don’t watch yourself.

This is a town still living in Britannic Victorian Mock Gothic Edwardian Muncipal Disneyesque Industrial Revolution Capitalism With Chinese Characteristics. Give on the left hand, take back with the right.

WHAT HAVE I DONE THIS TIME

Paternity leave is the latest cardtrick in the game of workersploitation and benefitsploitation in this cardsharp town.

I tell people, but they don’t seem to take it too well that our 10-week maternity leave doesn’t stack up in muscle power against statutory time off in other, primitive countries.

I say it makes more sense to crank up the maternity-leave days instead of giving it to the bastard father. The mother really need the extra days off. They think I’m mad. So, clearly, these people don’t have mothers, otherwise why else would they think I’m round the bend?

But, nooo, the father wants time off too, which he’ll spend on swilling cat’s-piss beer and soggy crisps in the company of over-imaginative but under-promiscuous chicks who are not actually chicks.

Yeah, I like talking to walls, because walls are so responsive and understanding. Derp.

So I spent the whole of last night designing and typesetting this humongous chart (below). It’s about maternity leave quotas of all the countries in the world. And Hong Kong is way way down at the bottom (but not quite down to the pits, as the USA is — sorry).

And you’d better appreciate this infographic — because I’m THAT easily irked nowadays and can easily tip over into a livid rage, mainly because I’m in the middle of no air conditioning and my body is coming out with strange, exotic rashes because of the heat — but that’s another story.

(Click image for massively massive hi-res massif of an infographic)

In case you wonder, I’ve been giving paternity leave to employees for years at 50% pay rate, law or no law. I do it because it’s The Right Thing To Do. The government probably has a different agenda.

Text and image © The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

8 Responses to “Paternity leave will leave you clutching at straws later”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Most bosses are psychopaths to one degree or another. In most situations, it requires inhumane responses to get up the ladder, but it also typically requires some psychopathy to want such power. In the US, about the only way it could become common is if someone decided it was a good way to make their enemies miserable.

    Like

  2. Yaxue C. said

    Srsly, Mister, this is serious business: You can talk to your walls all you want, but I almost spilled tea on my laptop laughing uncontrollably.

    Then I was completely shock-and-awed by your chart: Who are you exactly, an alien?

    Like

  3. Guus said

    Singapore’s birth rate isn’t much better than HK’s, but at least here they seem to have a more acute understanding of how serious a problem a low birth rate is in the long run. 4 months maternity leave.

    Though that is only a start. The biz environment is still decidedly family unfriendly here, as I imagine it is in HK

    Like

    • Yeah, that’s true. To put it in a politically incorrect way, the biggest difference between Hong Kong and Singapore is that Singapore is surrounded by bumiputras (ethnic Malays), so there is pressure to keep up with the essentially Chinese ethnicity of Singapore. We only have ‘cultural’ differences, being already surrounded by fellow Chinese. But that’s the sociological crap favoured by most most people. The reality is still that employers can still get away with unfair dismissal in our two places because the law in our places failed at doing their jobs to restore justice to people.

      Like

  4. Australia has just started mandated paternity leave so it is still too early to see what will result. I predict much the same as you, women will end up paying simply because they have the least financial clout in this world. On the other side of that coin is the Aussie baby bonus (recently discontinued) that paid new mothers $5,000 per baby. This led to having one for mum, one for dad and one for the plasma being a common comment about families with lots of small children. I believe that it was this kind of cynicism that ended the bonus. $5,000 is a drop in the ocean of money that it costs to raise a child (if you are doing it properly of course). As usual the governments of our sad and sorry world are all about being seen to be doing something rather than actually doing anything- and doing something useful is just not gonna happen.
    Another insightful post Rob- keep ’em comin’ mate!

    Like

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