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WAO welcomes government’s commitment to amend Employment Act,and repeats call for seven days paternity leave and job-seeker protection

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) welcomes the statement by Deputy Human Resources Minister Awang Hashim that amendments to the Employment Act would include paternity leave, extended maternity leave, protections against sexual harassment, and flexible working hours.

The announcement was made in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, and follows efforts made by previous governments to amend employment laws.

WAO’s ongoing calls for amendments to the Employment Act have included seven days of paid paternity leave, 98 days of paid maternity leave, anti-discrimination protections for both employees and job seekers, and protection from termination on the basis of pregnancy.

Seven days of paid paternity leave #7DaysForDads

We urge the government to introduce at least seven days of paid paternity leave for fathers working in the private sector – the same as what public sector workers currently enjoy. Three days – as had been previously discussed – is simply not enough. 

Seven days of paid paternity leave would enable fathers to play a more active role when their child is born, and to bond with them in those critical first days while the mother is recovering.

Introducing paternity leave also sends the message that caregiving is a shared responsibility. Such changes in social norms would help women stay in the workforce. A 2012 World Bank report estimates that if Malaysia were to eliminate the gender gap in workforce participation, income per capita could increase by 16 per cent. The Khazanah Research Institute estimates that a whopping 2,563,800 women in Malaysia were not working due to “housework or family responsibilities” – compared to just 69,800 men. 

WAO disseminated a petition for seven days of paid paternity leave, which garnered over 40,000 signatures. The petition was handed over to the former Minister of Human Resources in November 2019, and he had committed to proposing seven days to the Cabinet.

Protecting job-seekers from discrimination

We also urge the government to include anti-discrimination protection for both employees and job seekers – on the grounds of gender, race, religion, disability, and other characteristics. 

This would help make a reality the protections against discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and religion in the Federal Constitution, and the protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Malaysia has ratified.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, women are increasingly burdened with unpaid care work and forced to further juggle personal and professional responsibilities. This makes anti-discrimination provisions even more critical to keeping women in the workforce.


About Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

Since 1982, Women’s Aid Organisation has provided free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse. We help women and their children rebuild their lives, after surviving domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and other atrocities. Learning from women’s experiences, we advocate to improve public policies and shift public mindsets. Together, we change lives.

Call the WAO Hotline at 03 7956 3488 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058 if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact:

Natasha Dandavati, Head of Campaigns

Yap Lay Sheng, Senior Research and Advocacy Officer / 60182747042


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