KUALA LUMPUR – Paid maternity leave has officially been extended from 90 to 98 days following the amendment of the Employment Act 1955 (Act 265) at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (Mar 21).
The extension was made as per the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) labour standards, which require governments to give employees’ a paid maternity leave of 98 days.
According to the New Straits Times, the amendment will also protect female employees who are pregnant or suffering from illnesses due to their pregnancy from losing their jobs.
However, job termination will come into effect if misconduct, wilful breach of the employment contract or closure of business occurs.
Paternity leave also saw an extension from three to seven days, where it will be capped for up to five births only regardless of the number of wives and take effect on the day of birth.
Deputy Minister of Human Resources Datuk Awang Hashim said that increasing the paternity leave would enable more working men to handle family matters following their newborn’s arrival.
However, chief executive officer of think-tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy Azrul Mohd Khalib has raised doubts over the amendments, saying that it failed to address complications that may occur in the future.
He quoted the First Schedule of the Act as an example, where it defines an employee as a person who has entered into a contract of service with an employer under which the wages do not exceed RM2,000 a month.
The relevant paragraph on employee definitions in the First Schedule were not amended. Legally, it would mean that the entitlements, benefits and protections described under the Employment Act would only be applicable to those defined as employees in the legislation.
“This will potential prevent those who earn more than RM2,000 a month from enjoying the benefits prescribed in the newly amended Act,” he said.