Damn, 90 days of maternity leave? So extra! I think we need to do 90 days leh You wait! Someone replaces you then you’ll see *gasps* 90 days of maternity leave or to be more specific 90 days of paid maternity leave some are very happy about this but some aren’t as excited So why is everyone so obsessed with this issue? First, let’s be clear that Employment Act 1955 has not been amended so the 90-day maternity leave is not enforceable While the public sector has implemented the 90-day maternity leave The private sector is only encouraged to do so So ladies, technically speaking, you can’t sue your boss if they don’t let you take 90 days off *grunts* Side note, Employment Act 1955 is not applicable in Sabah and Sarawak, as they have their own labor ordinances. So what does the Employment Act currently say about maternity leave? You can refer to part 9 of the Act for details But generally, you are entitled to 60 days paid maternity leave, if: you are employed for at least 90 days during a 9-month proceeding confinement and you are employed at any time in the four months before confinement Now, let’s address two big questions How does this affect employers? And how does this affect women? Longer maternity leave increases motivation and productivity among employees This benefit is recognized by big players like Facebook and Google Closer to home, CIMB Bank provides six months paid maternity leave and one month paid paternity leave to first-time parents Profound! However, we can’t deny the fact that small and medium enterprises will feel the burden more. 60% of Malaysian SMEs are micro employers with fewer than five employees While bigger corporations have the financial means, most SMEs would struggle with the added burden. Does that mean we shouldn’t have 90 days paid maternity? Of course not! This is where government policies can play a role There are a few suggestions out there The popular ones are to let SMEs apply for tax exemptions and government subsidies or to expand SOCSO to cover maternity leave These are potential solutions to help both SMEs and working mothers Did you know Malaysia needs more women in the workforce? Women participation rate is only 54% compared to men at 80% This makes Malaysia one of the lowest in the region Despite low participation, female workers are significant contributors to Malaysia’s economy The contribution of female workers increased from 4% of real GDP growth between 2001 and 2008 to 14% between 2011 and 2016 Meanwhile, the contribution of male workers increased from 7% to 13% We have also seen the percentage of women in senior management increased from 24% in 2017 to 28% in 2018 One thing is for sure, having more women in the workforce is good for our economy We also see more women filling key positions in government and government-related organizations From Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Dr Wan Azizah to Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz the first woman to chair Permodalan Nasional Berhad Women play a significant role in Malaysia’s economic growth and policy making and policies like 90-day maternity leave would encourage women to remain in the workforce Further contributing to the progress of our nation Finally, let’s look at population growth Malaysia’s birth rate is declining We are talking about a drop from 4.9 in the 70s to 1.8 in 2018 While we might not feel the effects now we certainly will in a few decades An ageing population would increase public expenditure further increasing the need for a larger workforce Many factors affect birth rate including work culture That’s why we should do our best to support working mothers And a 90-day paid maternity leave is a good place to start Anyway, we would like to use this opportunity to thank all mothers for their hard work and sacrifices Mothers would know that 60 days of paid maternity leave is hardly enough to recover from childbirth and to bond with their children We are here to advocate for better welfare Not only for mothers, but for parents in general We believe paternity leave is also in need of reassessment but that’s another conversation. We hope you enjoy this heavily packed episode Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section Remember to follow and subscribe if you love this series See you in the next episode!