KUALA LUMPUR, 21 April 2009: Malaysian employers spent about RM1.57 billion annually, in providing 60-day maternity leave to its female employees, a seminar on gender equality was told today.
A study undertaken by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) showed that each confinement cost RM7,500. The amount comprised RM3,000 in wages and RM4,500 in overtime allowances.
In his paper on maternity protection, reconciling work and family responsibilities, MEF vice-president A Ramadass said that under existing laws, employers bore this cost for up to five surviving children
He said the cost would escalate to RM2 billion, if the maternity leave were to be increased to 84 days, as was the case in Singapore.
However, he pointed out that in Singapore, for the first two confinements, the employers paid for the first eight weeks and the additional four weeks were funded by the government.
For the third and fourth confinements, the government paid for the full 12- week maternity leave.
The two-day seminar which began today, is organised by the human resources ministry, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation.
It was attended by about 50 participants from various government agencies, trade unions and non-governmental organisations.
Lactation consultant Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi told the seminar that mother’s milk was a unique source of nutrition, an incalculable immunity protection and a natural way of nurturing the future generation.
She said breastfeeding also provided significant health benefits to the mother and was tremendous economic gain, in terms of food cost.
Nor Kamariah said the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and thereafter, recommended it be continued up to two years with complementary foods. — Bernama