Exclusive report by Mohd Fharkhan Abdul Ghapar
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 (Bernama) -- The government is advised to refine the implementation of the 90-day maternity leave from 2021 so that it will be beneficial to both employers and workers.
National Council of Women's Organisations (NCWO) President Prof Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said the government should consider 'win-win' policies such as giving incentives to employers.
“The private sector is mostly business based, so the government needs to consider an incentive for employers, because employers may have to face certain losses when their employees go for the maternity leave. There must be a win-win policy.
“The government can also consider using the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) to address this issue. We fear that if this only benefits the workers, employers will be wary of hiring female workers and this will give rise to discrimination issues against this group.
"The proposal is good, but it needs to be refined to benefit workers, employers, the government and the economy," she said when contacted by Bernama today.
Earlier, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) reportedly said employers could risk increasing their operating costs by RM2.7 billion a year when the 90-day maternity leave comes into force in 2021.
Explaining this to Bernama, MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said employers who run small businesses are more at risk compared to employers from big companies.
“In Malaysia there are more than 650,000 employers running small businesses, most of whom employ less than 10 workers and this (maternity leave) is feared to increase the financial burden and business constraints for the employer.
Shamsuddin suggested that the government help employers cover the extra costs of the additional 30 days of leave, through protection from the Social Security Organisation or the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS).
“Alternatively, the government could provide an appropriate mechanism to cover the additional 30 days, just like the contribution by employers and workers to the EIS.
He said the government need to be flexible with allowing employers to decide whether to grant additional leave based on their own discretion.
In Budget 2020 tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last week, the government plans to extend maternity leave from the current 60 days to 90 days from 2021 as a strategy to modernise the labor market.
Lim said the government would review the Work Act 1955 pertaining to four matters, including the maternity leave, to ensure that the Act remains relevant to the current needs of the labor market.