The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) is being slammed by various parties for its opposition of a three-day paternity leave benefit for private sector workers
On Sunday, 16 June, Malay Mail reported that the Human Resources Ministry is planning to introduce three days of paternity leave for staff in the private sector.
The plan is expected to be tabled as part of the amendment to the Employment Act 1955, and costs of the leave days will be borne by employers.
MEF believes that the proposed three-day paternity leave will be a heavy financial burden on the employers
MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the move will cost employers RM157.2 million, or RM52.4 million a day, reported Malay Mail.
"The reasons for such a period of leave is to allow familial bonds to grow between father, mother, and their newborn child, but another way to do so is needed to avoid incurring costs on the employer," Shamsuddin told Berita Harian.
He added that fathers can strengthen their bonds with their newborn children every day after work hours, on weekends, or on public holidays - which do not incur any costs.
Following his statement, various quarters have called Shamsuddin out for his views, including the Society for Equality, Respect and Trust for All Sabah (Serata)
In a report by New Straits Times, the Sabah-based non-governmental organisation said it was "disheartened" that MEF would prioritise profit over welfare of children.
"While Serata understands the importance of profit for businesses, especially in these economically-challenging times, such a belief that paternity leave is not necessary is indicative of how deeply-rooted stereotypes are in Malaysia," said Serata founder and chairperson Sabrina Melisa Aripen.
"Saying paternity leave is not necessary seems to be based on a few assumptions; firstly, that there is someone else to care for the new mother such as mothers and mothers-in-law, and secondly, that mothers are able to afford confinement care services or domestic helpers.
"The reality is not everyone has the privilege of having parents or in-laws who can assist, and not everyone can afford to pay for confinement care."
Sabrina also noted that it was "strange" that Malaysian employers were bickering over such a short period of paternity leave, when a minimum of two weeks of paternity leave is the norm in neighbouring Singapore and Myanmar.
Over on Twitter, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil and the All Women's Action Society expressed their support for the amendment
Even netizens have taken to tweeting their frustration with MEF's statement on the period of paternity leave
What are your thoughts on a mandatory three-day paternity leave for the private sector? Share in the comments below!
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