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Unions in Malaysia win increased maternity leave

24 March, 2022After a three-year campaign, IndustriALL affiliates in Malaysia have achieved 14 weeks maternity leave and the introduction of one-week paternity leave.

After the lower house of the Malaysian parliament passed the Employment Bill 2021 on 21 March, Malaysian women workers will now enjoy 14 weeks maternity leave and their husbands will be entitled to one-week paternity leave.

“We welcome the increased maternity leave and introduction of paternity leave. The government should also ratify ILO Convention 183 on maternity protection since domestic law will soon be in compliance with the international standard,”

says Idawati Idrus, co-chairperson of IndustriALL Malaysia women committee.

The bill also introduced new provisions on prohibition of forced labour, discrimination in employment, prohibition of termination of pregnant women workers, sexual harassment at the workplace and flexible working arrangements. The weekly hours of work have been reduced from 48 to 45.

N. Gopal Kishnam, IndustriALL Malaysia council secretary, says that the success is also the result of close collaboration of global union affiliates in Malaysia, women and migrant worker organizations through the Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC).

The LLRC, which consists of 58 trade unions affiliated to IndustriALL, BWI, PSI, IDWF, EI and NGOs, has engaged the Ministry of Human Resources to reform the Employment Act, Trade Union Act and Industrial Relations Act since 2019.

“I congratulate the unions on winning the campaign on maternity protection. We will continue to support our affiliates in advocating for better labour laws and trade union rights,”

says Shinya Iwai, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary.