Malaysian mothers working in the private sector currently enjoy a 60-day time off after pregnancy, while the fathers who work in the same sector are not legally entitled to any paternity leave.
In many countries, paternity leave is common. For example, Singapore offers up 14 days of paternity leave for fathers of Singaporean children. This means expats could also enjoy the benefit if their children are Singaporean citizens.
The Philippines also grants up to 14 days of paternity leave for new fathers. The first seven days will be funded by the employers, while fathers could transfer up to seven days leave from their wives’ 105 days maternity leave to extend their days off.
Regardless, the idea of granting paid leave to fathers has been an ongoing issue in Malaysia. The trend of ‘paternity leave’ had a spike in June, with over 40 articles covering the issue.
Then, the Ministry of Human Resources proposed a 3-day paternity leave for fathers working in private companies.
The proposed amendments to the Employment Act 1955 would also include the 90-days maternity leave for female employees in the private sector.
However, Executive Director of Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Sumitra Visvanathan and Sarawak’s Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato’ Sri Fatimah Abdullah opined that three days of paternity leave are not enough.
Both agreed that fathers working in the private sector should receive a minimum of seven days off, like the current paternity leave enjoyed by their counterparts in the public sector.
Also, in June, WAO launched a petition on change.org, urging the Ministry of Human Resources to extend the paternity leave in the private sector to seven days.
WAO presented the petition to Minister of Human resources M. Kulasegaran and the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh. As of November 21, over 42,000 people have signed the online petition.
The petition was positively received by Kulasegaran as he announced that he would bring the 7 days paternity leave proposal to the Cabinet. The move was also backed by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah, Hannah Yeoh and Fahmi Fadzil.
Nevertheless, the proposal faced challenges from the Malaysian Employer Federation (MEF) which agreed to only grant the initial 3-day paternity leave to male employees in the private sector.
As the issue is still ongoing, would Malaysian fathers eventually be given a 7-day paternity leave?