Employers in Malaysia will now get financial incentives from the government if they are able to implement programmes to recruit and retain women employees who have taken career breaks.

The new grants, launched as part of a nationwide plan to increase female participation in the workplace, were announced in partnership by the Minister of women, family and community development (KPWKM) YB Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, and TalentCorp.

The two grants – resourcing and retention – have been structured for companies to attract and retain women who have been on career breaks for more than six months.

Companies who have implemented or enhanced a programme to recruit women returnees are eligible for the resourcing grant, where they will receive co-funding of 75% of the cost incurred on the programme, such as recruitment costs, targeted campaigns, and technology investment.

On the other hand, the retention grant is for companies that have retained women returnees for more than six months, with the grant amount equivalent to the returnees’ one month salary.

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Said YB Dato’ Sri Rohani Abdul Karim, “It is crucial that we have employers’ support in the Career Comeback Programme, so that our country can optimise our women talent pool and at the same time enable women to succeed in their career ambitions as well as other personal obligations.”

“But while the Government can drive legislation, we also need to ensure that companies have the incentives required to make the changes.”

Malaysia is looking to increase the rate of female participation in the workforce to 55% by the end of this year, up from the current 52.4%, one of the lowest among ASEAN countries.

It also wants to raise the number of women in decision-making roles to 30% by the end of 2016.

Previous research by KPWKM and the UNDP found that two out of every three women, aged 25-39, gave up their jobs to look after their children, look after family members, or find an easier work-life balance.

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