28 employers denied workers 98-day maternity leave, Dewan Rakyat hears

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 44 reports have been received of employers denying pregnant employees their full 98-day maternity leave entitlement as of Oct 31, the Dewan Rakyat was told.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Mustapha Sakmud said 28 of the reports were confirmed, while the remainder were considered baseless.

“The employers involved have been reminded, while corrective action was taken.

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“All cases were resolved with the involved employees being allowed to go on maternity leave,” he said in Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 22).

Mustapha said employers who did not permit pregnant employees to go on the 98-day maternity leave would first be advised to take corrective action.

Failure to do so will result in investigation papers being opened and charges filed in court, with a fine of up to RM50,000 for those found guilty.

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Mustapha was responding to M. Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat), who asked about steps taken by the government to ensure all micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) abided by the 98-day maternity leave policy that came into effect on Jan 1.

Separately, Mustapha said there was a specific provision in the Labour Act 1955 that did not allow employers to terminate employees who were pregnant and sick unless there were instances of misconduct or the business had closed.

“If a pregnant employee is terminated, the onus is on the employer to prove it was not due to pregnancy.

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“Employers cannot take advantage of an employee’s pregnancy to terminate their employment. There has to be a reason,” he said.

He added that charges could be brought against such employers, who could be fined up to RM5,000 upon conviction.

Dr Abd Ghani Ahmad (PN-Jerlun) had asked about the possibility of employers replacing employees on maternity leave, adding that this would discriminate against new mothers.

Earlier, Mustapha said the Labour Act 1955 (Amendment 2022) allocated a 98-day maternity leave in line with the International Labour Organisation Convention.

This was based on the Maternity Protection Convention 2000 (No. 183), which determined that maternity leave should be no shorter than 14 weeks (98 days).

He added that the ministry, through the Labour Department, had taken various measures to ensure employer compliance.

The steps included education programmes, advice to employers, and investigating reports and resolving labour issues.

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