Clear up grey areas in amended Employment Act to protect more workers, government urged

Yu, who benefited from three months paid paternity leave himself, has been actively campaigning for seven days paternity leave for dads for the past five years. Photo: AZMAN GHANI/ The Star

Longer maternity leave for new mothers (98 days from the current 60 days) and seven days paid paternity leave for all new dads were among the major amendments to the Employment Act 1955 that was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Monday. Presently, dads in the private sector are not entitled, by law, to paid paternity leave.

This, say women’s rights activists and labour unions, is a significant reform in the law. Although paternity leave is just seven days, it is still significant and the mandate acknowledges the role that fathers must play in households. They hope that this may signal a change in mindsets about prescribed gender roles at home and eventually ease the burden that women face and create a more balanced workforce.

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