In the Malaysian Budget 2020, the government proposed the 90 days of maternity leave for private-sector employees. However, the new ruling will only come in effect on 1st January 2021. In the meantime, let's revise the state of the childcare leave for private-sector employees in Malaysia.
Maternity leave in Malaysia
Maternity leave is a period of absence from work given to a mother before and after the birth of her child.
According to the Employment Act 1955, the current entitlement for new mothers in 2020 is 60 consecutive days of leave with full pay. A company can opt to extend the leave beyond 60 days, but without pay. Public sector employees receive 90 days of leave.
To avail of the maternity leave benefit, an employee must have worked for the same employer for a minimum of 90 days in the four months prior to starting leave. Also, the employee has to give formal notice of the pregnancy and planned leave at least four months prior to the due date.
The employer cannot dismiss an employee or send a notice of termination during the maternity leave. In a few cases, an employee may be entitled to more than the statutory leave of two months:
- Banks and some state government employees get 90 days off;
- Several multinational companies give more than 90 days off;
- Few companies allow employees to extend their leave but without pay, after the mandatory 60 days.
Employees must send a notice to the employer before starting their parental leave.
It is worth noting that maternity benefits generally apply to your first five children. Under the law, you will not be entitled to maternity leave for your sixth child and all subsequent children.
Under the new Malaysian 2020 Budget, private-sector employees can take 90 days off, starting January 1, 2021. The reasoning behind this increase is that Malaysia was lagging the international standard leave of 98 days, and this policy would support both the mother and newborn.
The government has warned companies that refuse to offer the increased leave amount, and that the change would be mandatory.
Paternity leave in Malaysia
Paternity leave is a period of time that a father is legally permitted to be away from his work so that he can spend time with his new baby
The Employment Act does not require employers to give out paternity leave. But, there are employers that offer paternity leave based on their policy. It is common for companies to allow 1-3 days of paid leave or longer unpaid leave.
Public sector employees are given 7-14 days of paternity leave, but there is no proposal to extend this to the private sector.
Some employers only give one to three days of paternity leave. Though there are some multinational companies that give 14 days to a month of paternity leave. Various companies also allow new fathers to take unpaid leave or use their annual leave for this purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When can an employee start maternity leave?
In Malaysia, most employees work right until the day they give birth. This gives them time to spend as much time as possible with their child.
But, employees are actually allowed to start their leave a full month before their expected confinement. These employees will need a letter from the doctor confirming their estimated due date.
It is advised to consult with the employment contract, collective agreement of human resource department before making plans.
The employee can inform the Labour Department if the company does not comply with the law.
2. Does the employee need to send a formal notice of their pregnancy?
Under the Employment Act, the employee must send notice to the employer about their pregnancy at least four months from their due date to enjoy all the maternity benefits laid out in the employment contract. The employee must send a formal notice to their immediate supervisor and the human resource department.
It is also required to let the employer know when the employee expects to start their maternity leave at least two months before their expected confinement. Employees should take into account the work culture and standard practices at their company before notifying the immediate supervisor.
3. Can the employee take leave for antenatal appointments?
The law does not particularly address time off for antenatal appointments during working hours. Though there are companies that may have family-friendly policies in place that allow employees to replace those few hours away at another time.
As always, check with the employment contract or seek advice from your immediate supervisor or human resource manager.
If the company does not provide for time off for antenatal appointments, employees can consult with their doctors and midwives:
- On the weekends or days off;
- By taking annual leave or unpaid leave;
- During lunch hour;
- Through arrangements with coworkers to cover them for a few hours.
4. The employee's maternity leave has not ended but they wanted to return to work, can they shorten their leave period?
Even with consent from the employee to return to work before their leave is up, the law prohibits the employee to waive their rights. This is so the employee is not urged to go back to work but preferably, transition back into the workplace at a more suitable pace.
5. What will be done if the employer does not comply with the maternity leave?
The employee can inform the Labour Department if the company does not comply with the standard maternity leave given. If a company does get caught, the employee will be given 60 days’ worth of salary. The company can also be fined.
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Sources: ShieldGeo, Taylor's University, Babycenter
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