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HK Rights - Unfair work conditions

  1. #1
    NewMommie is offline Registered User
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    HK Rights - Unfair work conditions

    I am about 12 weeks pregnant and have just had a really eye opening experience at my job. Long story short, my bosses do not have children, are not women (maybe this is irrelevant but I don't think they know a thing about pregnancy) and seem to completely disregard the fact that I cannot work odd hours, long hours, etc. The final straw was them forcing me to work several all nighters in a row when I specifically scheduled a vacation and told them specifically my doctor advised me to sleep more as my weight gain was not great at the last scan.

    I am having my 12 week scan soon, and hope my recent stresses have not affected the baby. But beyond the physical stresses, the entire experience has me incredibly depressed, anxious, nauseated, etcetc and I know this cannot be good for my baby. I desperately want my doctor to assign me bed rest (I just read a thread on how that is awful, but that is how desperate I am because I have tried talking to my employers but they do not get it and give me a terrible attitude as if I am just trying to get out of work, so I feel all I can do is present them a doctor's note), but I know I cannot just get a doctor to agree for me to get bed rest without a physical reason.

    I know that this would be completely unacceptable in my home country, but have no idea what HK laws regarding pregnancy as a medical disability (and therefore fair treatment of disabled employees w/o no retribution such as firing, demotion, etc) are. Does anyone know what I can do, or what the laws on this are in HK?

    I'm working today (Sunday) and my bosses return to the office tomorrow, so I am dreading seeing them and want to be able to know my rights. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    mommyinhk is offline Banned
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    Hi,

    As far as I am aware, a HK employer cannot fire you for any reason while you are pregnant (unless they can show gross negligence). So, I think it is fine to present a bed rest certificate and not worry about losing your job. The doctors in HK are pretty easy going about issuing medical notes.

    Also, I believe that for HK pregnant employees, you can claim as much sick leave as you need due to pregnancy. I'm not even sure you need to have a doctors note. You should check with the labor department website. This sick leave does not count towards your 6 weeks off, or whatever time you are entitled to under HK law.

    I am familiar with this because as a small business owner, one of our employees was pregnant last year and I definitely gave her a lot of flexible options (like work from home, only come in when you need to, etc). Luckily, for me, her pregnancy was a very smooth and easy one, and she didn't end up taking very much sick leave.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    mommyinhk is offline Banned
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    Oops...actually, what I just said only applies if you have been working at the company for a specific period before becoming pregnant (like a year?) and have a continuous contract. You should definitely check with the labor department to be certain.

  4. #4
    NewMommie is offline Registered User
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    Thanks; that's very helpful. So it is OK for me to ask my doctor for a note indicating I need some bed rest (I feel like I could use it for at least a few weeks to normalize, then I would like a 'fair' working schedule). I feel weird asking a doctor to give me something. My doctor is one of the expat docs that works at Matilda; I am very aware the HK local doctors seem to always give prescriptions without any questions, but I figured expat doctors would be more strict...

  5. #5
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    there is nothing to be feeling bad about.

    you are NOT in your normal state of health. you ARE carrying another soon-to-be human inside of you. YOU MUST take it easier. explaining the situation to your doctor is the first step. tell her how unreasonable your bosses are and ask for "advice"...maybe ask about "bedrest" for your condition... would it be out of line? i don't think so in the least.

  6. #6
    LeahH is offline Registered User
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    All doctors will see physical and emotional stress as dangerous for your health and that of the baby. My OB (expat, works at Matilda also) focused a lot on my working conditions throughout my pregnancy and signed me off whenever necessary (and my situation was a lot less intense than yours).

  7. #7
    plumtree is offline Registered User
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    Hi newmommie, I agree with the other posters that there is nothing wrong with going to your doctor to explain your situation- they'd probably ask why you haven't been to see them sooner! By way of a comparison, I work in a very demanding line of work myself, but during my pregnancies, my bosses (all men) have been pretty understanding and have been more flexible in their arrangements to me (within reason of course, not to be unfair to other employees). I think cancelling vacations and several all nighters in a row is definitely unfair, whatever the reason.

    I have a friend who had the same experience during her first pregnancy but then managed to rest a lot during her second pregnancy. Her second pregnancy turned out to be easier on her than her first, and her second baby was a good deal larger than the first. It may be coincidence, but she swears that the additional rest made a whole lot of difference.

    Your health is more important than working hard for bosses that don't really care about you as a person. Just my personal view having seen lots of the same thing around me.

  8. #8
    slamdunk is offline Registered User
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    There are restrictions (I think 4 weeks) for sick leave during pregnancy but the 4 consecutive days rule doesn't apply and I guess like normal sick leave, a doctor's note is required.

    There is also protection about work conditions for pregnant employees.

    A word of warning tho, employers can ask for an independent doctor to assess your condition and if you requested bed rest doctors note when you didn't medically need it then this could be constituted as "gross misconduct" which is the ONLY reason they can fire you when pregnant.

    good luck, hope things go well.

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