KUALA LUMPUR: If all goes well, it will soon be the law for the private sector to allow paternity leave for fathers, says Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran.
"I hope to table amendments to the law during the current Parliament meeting which lasts till December.
"If not by this December, it will be done in the next meeting in March next year," he told reporters after receiving an online petition organised by the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) here on Wednesday (Nov 13) calling for compulsory paternity leave in the private sector.
The current Parliament meeting is from Oct 7 to Dec 5, with the next meeting in March next year.
Kulasegaran said the proposed amendments to the Employment Act will also cover the 90-day maternity leave for women.
"I had initially proposed to the Cabinet three days' paternity leave for fathers.
"However, I will bring the matter up again with the Cabinet following calls for seven days of paternity leave," he said.
At present, Kulasegaran said only the civil service provided seven days of paternity leave.
Kulasegaran said he would also need to get the views from stakeholders before the proposed changes to the law were made.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, who was present at the handing over event outside Parliament grounds, said she supported the proposal for compulsory paternity leave for fathers.
"It is crucial for the husbands to be by the side of the wives and newborn in the first few days.
"As a mother, I understand what it is like and how hard it is to even get out of bed in the first few days after delivery," she said.
Under Budget 2020, the government announced a review of the Employment Act 1955 in order to remain relevant to the current needs of the labour market.
The review includes increasing maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days effective 2021.
Meanwhile, WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said the initial proposed three-day paternity leave by the government was a positive step but it was insufficient.
"Fathers in the private sector deserve at least seven days of paternity leave, similar to existing leave in the public sector," she said after handing over the petition of almost 40,000 online signatures to Kulasegaran and Yeoh.
Also present at the gathering were supporters which included television personality Daphne Iking and social media influencer Jinnyboy.