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Employment Act amendments: Maternity leave provisions still applicable to all employees who give birth

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If you are an employee expecting a baby – whether or not you earn over RM2,000 – rest assured you will still be entitled to maternity leave and allowance.

In the last 2021 Parliament sitting, the government tabled a bill to amend the Employment Act 1955. Important changes were introduced, such as increasing maternity leave from 60 to 90 days, prohibiting termination on the basis of pregnancy and introducing three days of paternity leave.

The bill also repeals Section 44A of the Employment Act. Currently, Section 44A extends entitlements to maternity leave and allowance to employees who give birth regardless of wage level (whether below or above RM2,000). The explanatory statement of the bill states the government’s intention to widen the applicability of the act to employees regardless of wage, but it was not clear where that amendment would be made.

Consequently, there has been some concern that – if Section 44A is deleted, would maternity leave and allowance only extend to employees earning less than RM2,000?

As such, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has sought clarity from the Ministry of Human Resources Ministry – and the ministry confirmed that entitlements to maternity leave and allowance will still apply to employees regardless of wage level.

The ministry has confirmed that a minister’s order (pursuant to subsection 2(2) of the Employment Act) will be made to amend the first schedule of the Employment Act to enable all provisions in the act to generally apply to employees (unless specifically excluded). This was confirmed in an email from the ministry to WAO, as well as in a meeting with the human resources minister. – WAO

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