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MEF: More parental leave will burden bosses

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Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director, Shamsuddin Bardan recently spoke up against the request to increase maternity and paternity leave saying it will only serve to further burden employers.

“We are very much stretched now in that the number of working days for an employee in Malaysia is already quite low,” he told Free Malaysia Today while commenting on two separate reports – IKEA offering a month-long paternity leave to Southeast Asia employees, and a Maybank employee suggesting that 90 days’ paid maternity leave, given to civil servants at present, be extended to private sector staff.

With one day’s wages in the private sector is estimated at RM600 million, he added that employers were not in a position to consider more holidays.

“Many private sector companies give two or three days’ paid paternity leave to fathers. That is still the practice. I don’t think we are ready to grant up to one month’s leave, like what is practised by some international companies like IKEA.”

On the matter of maternity leave, Shamsuddin explained that the entitlement is about the same as in the private sector and many had misunderstood the current practice in the public sector.

“The maximum entitlement is only 300 days for the total duration of service. This comes to about 60 days each for a maximum of five children. These 300 days can be taken up to 80-90 days, according to the employee’s wishes.

“If the employee decides to have 90 days for three consecutive births, then she would have taken 270 days, which means she is only left with 30 days. For the fourth birth, the employee can only get 30 days. For her fifth child, there will be no maternity leave.”

Shamsuddin further explained that the Employment Act talks about the number of living children that a family has while in service.

“If an employee has given birth to six children but only four are still alive, for the next birth, the employee is entitled to 60 days’ maternity leave. This way, it is possible for her to have more than 300 days’ leave.”

Citing the practice in Singapore where the maternity leave was increased from 60 days to 82 days, he noted that the government foots the bill from the 60th to 82nd day. This is being done to encourage parents to have more children because of the ageing population in the republic.

Linking it back to the situation in Malaysia, Shamsuddin said if the government were to share the costs with the companies, this same system could be practised in Malaysia.

“But currently there is no such cost sharing. In Malaysia, the paternity leave is fully borne by employers. In more developed countries, the paternity leave is paid through social insurance,” he added.

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