PETALING JAYA: Housewife Kee Eli Zanadiah, 30, is happy that the Government is considering granting personal income tax exemption to women returning to work after a long career break.
Having left the workforce two years ago to focus on raising her two daughters, the young mother said the rising cost of living and meagre salary were among factors leading women to leave their jobs.
“Some mothers cannot afford to hire other people to take care of their children because their pay is too little.
“If the pay is good and we get tax exemptions, it would not be a problem for us to go back to work,” Kee Eli said.
WOMEN:girls founder-president Low Ngai Yuen said it was “fantastic” for the Government to declare 2018 as a year of women empowerment and commended the proposal to exempt personal income tax for women returning to work.
“A lot of women leave employment when they have young children to take care of.
“This will encourage more women to return to work. We are losing talents, it is one of our biggest issues,” she added.
Low also welcomed the proposal to increase the maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days in the private sector.
“Kudos to the Government for that,” she said.
But Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the current benefits in terms of maternity leave were actually more superior in total number of days, even though it seemed to be lower in the private sector.
He said while there was a cap of 300 days for civil servants, employees in the private sector are entitled to 60 days of maternity leave with pay for up to five surviving children.
“For example, if this is the sixth time an employee is pregnant but she only has two surviving children, she will still be entitled to leave with pay for 60 days.
“As for a civil servant in the same situation, assuming that she takes 60 days for each maternity leave, she would have exhausted the maximum of 300 days she has,” he said.
Shamsuddin said it is not mandatory for civil servants to take 90 days as it depends on an individual’s requirement.
“What is being provided now in the Employment Act is more beneficial to a certain extent. If the Government wants to increase the maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days in the private sector, the law needs to be relooked and amended to say up to 300 days and to take up to 90 days for each birth.
“Then again, it depends on how the Human Resources Ministry interprets this. I hope there will be a discussion with stakeholders before they relook the law or implement the system,” he said.
National Council of Women’s Organisations president Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin commended the initiative requiring at least 30% of women in the board of directors in GLCs, GLICs and statutory bodies.
“Bodies like the Companies Commission of Malaysia should ensure that more women are recruited into the workforce.
“There should also be a mechanism in place to register complaints from women who are discriminated at work,” she said.
Meanwhile, Akademi Inovasi Wanita (MyWIN Academy) chairman Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil thanked the Government for allocating RM20mil for training and entrepreneurship programmes for women.