The recent approval of the amendments to the Employment Act 1955 (Act 265) has gained the attention of Malaysian citizens. The amendments spelt out great news for Malaysian to-be parents. There is now an increase from 60 days to 98 days for maternity leave in Malaysia. On the other hand, new fathers in Malaysia can apply for up to 7 days of paternity leave. This is an increase compared to the mere 3 days previously.
The short answer is yes. Why? The logic behind paternity leave is that it can help male workers to manage their familial affairs including taking care of their wives while acclimatizing to having a newborn baby under their roofs. Increasing this leave period will only yield good things as men will be able to spend more time with their family, reducing the chance of burnout among the new mothers as well as increasing the enthusiasm that male workers will feel towards their employers for showing support during an emotionally as well as physically trying time.
Malaysia still lags behind if compared to our neighbouring countries, though. Take the Philippines, for example. The country provides 14 days of paternity leave—double the period that has been newly allocated to Malaysian fathers. Alternatively, Vietnamese working fathers are afforded paternity leave between 5 to 14 days.
Moreover, the extension of maternity leave (60 days to 98 days) is done so that Malaysia can be in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention. This is better, but admittedly there are other countries that allow even longer leaves than this. Vietnam allows a total period of 6 months (180 days) of maternity leave for its female employees. That’s nearly double the number of days that Malaysian mothers are now afforded with the new amendments! Still, this doesn’t mean that we should not feel happy about these amendments. Good progress should be celebrated. Here’s to hoping more changes will be gradually introduced in Malaysia as time goes by so that we all can enjoy a better life quality overall.