The Dewan Rakyat has approved the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021 yesterday (21 March) and the new amendments will enhance protection for workers against discrimination and further safeguard their well-being.
The amendments include a seven-day paid paternity leave for married male employees for each confinement, with a limit of 5 confinements, irrespective of the number of spouses.
With this, paternity leave will finally be legally introduced to allow more space for men workers to manage family affairs after welcoming their newborns. Before this, the private sector was not required to provide paternity leave at all.
In addition, the amendments also see an extension of employees’ maternity leave from 60 to 98 days.
It also protects pregnant workers from being terminated by their workplace, except on the grounds relating to misconduct, wilful breach of the employment contract or closure of business. This protection also applies to those who are suffering from preganancy-related illnesses as well.
More protections for workers
The bill also introduced the option of flexible working arrangements, where hires can apply for flexible working arrangements depending on the type of workplace and working hours.
Apart from that, there are also protections for the employees to leave work on time.
The amendment to Section 90B says that any employer who threatens, deceives or forces workers to do any type of work or prevents their workers from leaving their place of work could now be prosecuted.
Employers who are found guilty of this offence can face a fine of up to RM100,000 or 2 years imprisonment or both.
While the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021 has been approved by the Dewan Rakyat, it will still need to pass in the Senate before the government sets the date of enforcement for these new rules.
These amendments are definitely a step in the right direction for workers and their rights.