04 September 2007

Longer paid leave needed, says group

The Star

Longer paid leave needed, says group

PETALING JAYA: The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (Waba) has applauded the government’s move to allow women in the civil service a total of five years off from work to raise their children.

Its co-director Sarah Amin said it was timely for the Government to take action to ensure that the needs of mothers and young children, who were Malaysia’s future generation, were best taken care of.

“However, most households require income from both parents, hence the benefit alone is insufficient to address the basic needs of mothers and young children needing to be together,” she said.

“We need paid maternity leave as recommended by the International Labour Organisation, which is 14 weeks. Mothers in Malaysia are given only eight weeks' paid maternity leave,” she said.

This was far behind other countries like Sweden (14 weeks), Singapore (12 weeks) and Hong Kong (10 weeks).

In Sweden, fathers are also entitled to 10 days' paternity leave with 80% of them taking advantage of the benefit, said the Swedish Consular Deputy Head of Mission Eva Nilsson Mansfeld.

On top of the leave, parental leave is provided for 480 days per child, with 60 days reserved each for the father and mother while the rest are shared freely, she said.

During parental leave, 390 days are paid at 80% of the parents' income, up to a given ceiling and the remaining 90 days are set at a daily rate of around RM90 per day, she said.

According to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower website, an employer is required to continue paying an employee her usual salary, including allowances, for the first eight weeks of maternity leave if she has been employed for at least 180 days before the date of birth and has fewer than two children of her own at the time of birth.

Otherwise, the employee is entitled to half pay.

If the employee qualifies for government-paid maternity leave under the Children Development Co-Savings Act, she will be paid during the entire 12 weeks of maternity leave, otherwise, payment beyond the first eight weeks is subject to contractual agreement.

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