The comments follow reports Swedish furniture giant IKEA is granting four weeks of paternity leave to its employees in Southeast Asia, and that a Maybank employee suggested 90 days’ paid maternity leave be also given to private-sector workers.
“We are very much stretched now in that the number of working days for an employee in Malaysia is already quite low,” he said, as reported by Free Malaysia Today.
One day’s wages in the private sector is estimated at RM600m – employers are not in a position to consider more holidays, according to Shamsuddin.
The private sector in Malaysia gives two or three days’ paid paternity leave to new fathers. “That is still the practice,” he said. “I don’t think we are ready to grant up to one month’s leave.”
Meanwhile, the maternity leave for civil servants is capped at 300 days for up to 5 children, which translates to 60 days per child. This entitlement is about the same as in the private sector, and many may have misunderstood the current practice, he said.
“The maximum entitlement is only 300 days for the total duration of service. This comes to about 60 days each for a maximum of five children.
“These 300 days can be taken up to 80-90 days, according to the employee’s wishes. If the employee decides to have 90 days for three consecutive births, then she would have taken 270 days, which means she is only left with 30 days.
“For the fourth birth, the employee can only get 30 days. For her fifth child, there will be no maternity leave.”
Shamsuddin said the practice in Singapore, where the maternity leave was increased from 60 days to 82 days, was meant to encourage parents to have more children. The government foots the bill from the 60th to 82nd day. “Currently there is no such cost sharing in Malaysia,” he said.
Additional maternity and paternity leaves for private sector employees in Malaysia will only burden employers, according to Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan.