Kuala Lumpur, 18 November 2019 — It is disappointing to learn of the Malaysian Employers Federation’s (MEF) recent decision to grant paternity leave for only three days instead of seven days to husbands, as proposed by the government.
Commenting on this appointment, Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said, “The father’s presence shortly after childbirth can have important consequences for the new mother’s physical and mental health. It is incredibly short-sighted for the MEF to take this position.”
“Studies have shown the benefits gained as a result of investing in more paid paternity leave, including improved mental health for mothers and children to more involved and confident fathers.”
“When both parents take off work, they will be able to help deal with the health issues which mothers often face after childbirth and when they get home from the hospital. Postpartum depression for example, is a real issue. Worldwide, 20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression.”
“Simply having fathers more available to help out with the newborn can lead to huge gains in mental health for mothers. A couple of days of extra support for the mother makes a strong difference.”
“A Stanford study released this year found that giving fathers flexibility to take time off work in the months after their children are born improves the postpartum health and mental well-being of mothers. Mothers are 14% less likely to need a specialist or be admitted to a hospital for childbirth-related complications, such as mastitis or other infections, within the first six months of childbirth. They are also 11% less likely to require antibiotic prescriptions, and 26% less likely to need anti-anxiety medication.”
“Begrudging granting paternity leave, including not willing to pay for it, sends a harmful signal that despite this being 2019, we are still being held back by two traditional stereotypes: that men are the primary breadwinners and women are the primary caregivers for children. These stereotypes are impeding equality and potential in the workplace and at home,” said Azrul.
“It is important to point out that some of the most successful businesses in the world emphasise on providing support to their workers, which not only provides for a more supportive workplace but also strengthens employee productivity and loyalty. Ikea, for example provides 4 month maternity leave and 4 week paternity leave.”
“Malaysian dads, in comparison, are only asking for a week. It makes sense to provide at least 7 days paid paternity leave.” emphasised Azrul.
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