Maternity Leave 101: Everything Malaysians Need to Know

Blog
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August 20, 2021
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By
Nicholas K

If you or your partner are planning to start a family, or if you’re planning to expand your family with more children, maternity leave will be a key aspect of your employment agreement. This allows working mothers to take some time off to recover from the pregnancy and bond with their newborn infants — while still receiving a living wage.

Like other types of paid leave, female employees’ right to paid maternity leave is covered under the Employment Act 1955, which means that it is considered to be a statutory entitlement for eligible employees. However, the Employment Act 1955 does not cover every female employee in Malaysia. 

Here’s everything that you need to know about maternity leave in Malaysia. 

How many days am I entitled to?

This depends on whether you’re covered as an employee under the Employment Act 1955. This includes:

  • Employees working in West Malaysia
  • Employees earning a monthly salary of RM2,000 or below 
  • Employees supervising or working in manual labour 
  • Domestic servants

As such, the Act provides that every female employee will be entitled to at least 60 consecutive days of paid maternity leave. Payment during this period will come in the form of a “maternity allowance”, which is calculated as your usual daily salary.

To be eligible for this allowance, you’ll need to fulfill the following conditions: 

  • The employee must have been employed by the employer for an total period of 90 days over the 9 months leading up to her confinement period; and 
  • The employee must have been employed by her existing employer within the 4 months leading up to the confinement period. 

What about employees not covered by the Employment Act 1955? 

For employees that fall outside the scope of the Employment Act 1955, leave entitlements are generally covered by your employment contract. This means that if your monthly remuneration is above RM2,000, you’ll need to pay extra close attention to the terms and conditions of your agreement with your employers.

However, most employers generally use the Act’s terms as a baseline of sorts, so you should expect to have equal — if not improved — terms when it comes to maternity leave entitlement. 

This also means that you should pay close attention to each and every clause of your contract when joining a company, even if you don’t (yet) have plans to start a family in the near future. 

When should you apply for maternity leave?

Based on the Employment Act, the employee in question is required to notify her employer of the expected date of the confinement period within 60 days prior. On the other hand, an employee who is planning to resign from the company will need to notify her employer of her pregnancy to be eligible for maternity allowance during the 60-day period.

If the employee does not give notice as per the conditions above, she will not be entitled to maternity allowance. This notice can be given to her direct manager in the form of a written letter, or even orally.

Again, it’s important to go through the specific leave policy of your company/employer, as many companies now offer maternity leave periods that are significantly longer than the 60-day period stipulated in the Employment Act 1955.

What about the 90-day period?

A longer maternity leave period has been mooted over the last couple of years, and the Ministry of Human Resources even stated that the employers in the private sector are required to comply with the government’s directive for a 90-day maternity leave period. 

However, these changes have yet to be gazetted — which means that technically, the current version of the Employment Act 1955 (as amended in 2012) is the legal authority on this matter. As such, the statutory entitlement for maternity leave stands at 60 days, although this might change in the future. 

Aside from that, it’s also worth noting that there is no provision for paternity leave in Malaysian employment law for now. This means that new fathers will have to utilise their annual leave entitlements, or even take unpaid leave when their partners give birth. 

Again, you’ll need to look into your individual employment contract on this. Nowadays, many companies offer paternity leave periods to male employees, although they aren’t usually as long as maternity leave periods. 

Keeping track of your leave entitlements shouldn’t be tedious, even in the “new normal”

At the end of the day, leave entitlements can be a complex matter to sort out, even for the most experienced HR professionals. But Digi’s super app, altHR, can help with this.

For example, the Leaves module (one of the most popular features on the app) helps employers keep track of employee leave allocations, requests, and policies. 

The module can even handle the more complex aspects of leave policies, such as the different entitlements for different groups of employees based on tenure with the company, marital status, levels, carry-forward balances, replacement leave policy, and even leave reports. 

The best part? Everything is seamlessly integrated with the other modules within altHR, such as Documents, Expense and Payroll Management. 

HR professionals are often faced with daunting, often tedious tasks on a daily basis — tasks that have become even more difficult to handle in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. 

But help is available, if you know where to look. Let us streamline your HR processes by managing and automating day-to-day tasks, so you won’t have to worry about things like paperwork, privacy concerns, time-tracking, or onboarding challenges.

Sign up for altHR, the all-in-one digital solution that covers everything from payroll and onboarding, to staff management and providing employees with information kits. You’ve done it the old way long enough.

Sign up for altHR

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