Ministry moots raising maternity leave to 98 days, introducing three-day paternity leave

The Human Resources Ministry is said to be proposing to increase maternity leave to 98 days or equivalent to 14 weeks under the Employment Act. —  AFP pic
The Human Resources Ministry is said to be proposing to increase maternity leave to 98 days or equivalent to 14 weeks under the Employment Act. — AFP pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — The Human Resources Ministry plans to suggest changes to employment laws that include increasing private sector maternity leave from 60 days to 98 days and introducing three days’ paternity leave.

The Human Resources Ministry reportedly said it was proposing to increase the maternity leave to 98 days or equivalent to 14 weeks under the Employment Act.

“Employers are to bear the cost of maternity allowance for 19 days, while the remaining 19 days are unpaid leave,” the ministry was quoted saying by local daily The Star on the cost for the additional 38 days if increased from 60 days.

According to The Star, female employees in the public sector are already allowed 90 days of maternity leave, while the private sector is currently encouraged to give 90 days of maternity leave.

As for fathers, those working in the public sector are given seven days of paid paternity leave, while there is no legal obligation currently for the private sector to offer paternity leave. As early as June, the proposal to introduce a three-day paternity leave for the private sector through laws had been reported.

“In addition, it is proposed that employers cannot terminate a pregnant employee unless employers can prove the termination is not because of pregnancy,” the ministry was also quoted saying.

The Star said that the suggested amendment must first obtain the Cabinet's approval before they are presented to Parliament, adding a ministry source said the proposal may be amended to suggest a 90-day maternity leave instead of 98 days to match the public sector's levels and the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition's election manifesto.

In PH's Buku Harapan, the coalition had — under its commitment to ensure a national economic system that advances the interest of women — said “maternity leave will be fixed at 90 days.”

The Star report cited Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsudin Bardan as saying that employers are receptive to the idea of additional maternity leave if the cost is shouldered by the government or social security, noting that employers, especially smaller businesses would find it difficult to afford paying for more maternity leave days.

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