Maternity Leave

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1.0 BACKGROUND 700/233

1.1Issue 1: Maternity Leave 233
The issue of maternity leave is a debatable topic among governments, employers and employees with differing interests. Varying across countries, Malaysia practices a minimum of 60 days according to the Employment Act 1955 ( 2010) . In theSun Newspaper, Chandranagayam (2010) discussed how Malaysian practitioners responded poorly towards National Union of Bank Employee’s (NUBE) call to increase maternity leave from 60 to 90 days, citing business operations’ interruptions, unhealthy business environment and 60 days being sufficient. The writer asserts that companies should focus on developing innovative solutions to provide for this benefit as most developed countries do. Presently, only the Selangor state enforces 90-day maternity live for its civil servants (The Star Online 2010) .

The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) minimum standard is set at 14 weeks in promoting working women’s right (The Star Online 2010) . Vast majority of its 183 members provide 12 weeks or more maternity leave with more than 70 providing more than 14 weeks. The need becomes greater as Malaysian women are expected not only to be productive employees and leaders, but take on the motherhood role. A study from the Corporate Leadership Council (2009) finds effective work-life benefits result in star employees working harder and increased organization loyalty. This provides insights on how organizations can attract and retain skilled labour. Malaysia has yet to conform to ILO’s minimum recognized standard.

1.2Issue 2: Migrant Workers 233
In March 2010’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Zappei (2010) discussed on Malaysia’s migrant workers. Amnesty, an organization campaigning for international human rights urged for Malaysia to protect its migrant workers’ rights as they found exploitation of these low skilled workers a common occurrence. Among the mistreatment faced are arbitrary arrests, low wages, threats and unsafe working environments. This is a concern as more than one fifth of Malaysia’s workforce positions are filled by foreign labourers in positions shunned by locals in industries involving construction, households, factories and plantations. It is estimated about 1 million foreigners working illegally and 2 million working legally in Malaysia with most of them coming from poorer parts of countries including Philippines, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The situation impacts Malaysia’s diplomatic ties with other countries. Zamir (2009) found migrant workers dependent towards the economy where the global recession resulted in Malaysia cancelling more than 50000 visas in the first quarter of 2009. Many Bangladeshi workers were retrenched and forced to return to their home country, negatively impacting Bangladesh’s economic position and balance of payment being heavily reliant on providing migrant labour. Conversely, diplomatic relations among Malaysia and Indonesia over 52 years deteriorated over differing misconceptions over issues of criminal migrant workers and maid abuse. This is detrimental as both countries are heavily reliant on providing for each other’s economy (Newsbank 2009) .


2.1 Issue 1: Maternity Leave
In terms of workplace performance, both males and females are required to be productive regardless of gender differences. The issue of maternity leaves boils down to the fact of gender differences that women give birth and need to juggle in balancing both roles at work and at home. According to the News Straits Times (2010) , Norway’s Gender Equality Act provides fairness in recruitment, remuneration, protection from sexual harassment and education access. Over 30 years, the act resulted in about 70 percent Norwegian women today compared to less than half previously. With 40.1 percent female board members in public listed companies, the Norwegian economy benefits from...
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