Don't jump to conclusions over leave 'denial' and new mother's death, says deputy minister

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Labour Department has investigated the matter of a bereaved man whose wife died shortly after giving birth, says Deputy Human Resources Minister Mustapha Sakmud.

This follows an outcry on social media after the man claimed that he was not granted his seven-day paternity leave and could not stay home with his wife for very long after she delivered their baby.

Outraged social media users took it that his employer's refusal to grant the mandatory paternity leave as practised in Peninsular Malaysia was a factor that contributed to the death.

Some commenters urged him to sue his employer, while others offered to take the matter to court on his behalf.

Mustapha said on Friday (June 2) the department had found that the man's employer granted him two days' paternity leave and urged him to take annual leave to keep his wife company until things had settled down.

He said company sources informed the department that the man went back to work on the sixth day following his child's birth and had said that both mother and baby were doing fine.

“Unfortunately, he returned home that evening to find his wife dead, and their baby crying beside her,” said Mustapha.

“I hope everyone will stay calm and refrain from blaming anyone as the company complied with the Sabah Labour Ordinance in this matter,” he said, adding that the seven-day mandatory paternity leave implemented in the peninsula is not enforced in Sabah yet.

“The state government has agreed to amend an article in the Sabah Labour Ordinance with regard to this matter,” he said.

Mustapha said the rights of workers in Sabah would always be safeguarded in accordance with the guidelines set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

On claims that the man received a pay cut for missing almost two weeks of work after his wife's passing, Mustapha said it was true but, following discussions with state officials, the company restored what was deducted.

He was told that the deduction was made because the man did not apply for any annual leave, nor did he tell his employer when he was expected to return to work.

According to the law, an employee is only entitled to full annual leave after a year of employment while it is learnt the man only started work with the company on Dec 2.

He said the Labour Department was giving the man the time he needed to grieve before asking for his account of the situation.

“Let us also give the man and his family space to get through this difficult time before making any further statements,” he said, urging the public to stop speculating on the matter.

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