MEF Objected MTUC’s Proposal in providing 1 month’s paid paternity leave in Malaysia
Recently, the Malaysian Federation of Employers (MEF) objected The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC)’s proposal in providing 1 month’s paid paternity leave. MEF’s executive director, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, stated that mandatory paid paternity leave would affect operational costs and company productivity, stating that taking into consideration an average salary of RM2,800 a month, 1 month’s paid paternity leave would cost approximately RM1.4 billion. He further added that such policies should not be introduced at an economically unstable time like this. The MEF further stated that if implemented, Malaysia would not be a lucrative choice for investors, and it would burden employers.
The MTUC’s secretary general was quoted as saying that it is time for a review of paternity leave provisions, since most private companies in Malaysia do not provide such benefits. It was also mentioned that the implementation of paternity leave could also reduce the instances of postpartum depression, since husbands and fathers would be able to take paid leave and take care of their wife and newborn during the confinement period.
At this moment, under the Malaysian Employment Act 1955, it does not provide for mandatory paid paternity leave, although mothers are entitled by law to a minimum of 60 consecutive days of paid maternity leave.
However, in Malaysia, some employees in the public sector are given paid paternity leave ranging anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. Employees in the private sector are not so fortunate, since their rights to paternity leave are at the sole discretion of the employer.
That being said, AXA Malaysia has recently announced that their employees will be entitled to 4 weeks of paid paternity leave. We can see that some companies are beginning to recognize the benefits in offering paid paternity leave to their employees as part of their benefits.
As of now, paternity leave is not a mandatory in accordance to the labour law in Malaysia. Since there is no enforcement, there will be little incentive or none at all in a worst case scenario in order for an employer to voluntarily offer paid paternity leave, especially the smaller SMEs who cannot afford to have its business interrupted as well as adequate manpower to cover the long absence of an employee on his paternity leave.