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Minister’s Order Expands Paternity Leave, Longer Maternity Leave, Sexual Harassment Protection To All Workers

The minister’s order amends the First Schedule of the Employment Act by removing the salary cap to include any employee who enters into a contract of service.

A woman office worker. Picture by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 18 – Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan has gazetted a ministerial order that expands paternity leave, longer maternity leave, and sexual harassment protections under the amended Employment Act 2022 to all employees across wage levels.

The minister’s order, gazetted last August 12, amended Section 1 of the First Schedule of the Employment Act 1955 to drop the wage ceiling of employees who would be covered under the law. The law originally only covered employees earning RM2,000 or below a month. 

Now, the First Schedule of the Employment Act 2022 designates two groups of employees covered under different provisions of the labour law: those earning any amount of wages, and those earning more than RM4,000 a month.

The provisions related to full-pay maternity leave entitlement for female employees that was raised to 98 days in the amended Employment Act from 60 days (Section 37), as well as a new Section 60FA of full-pay seven-day paternity leave entitlement for married male employees, extend to workers across wage levels. 

Existing protections against workplace sexual harassment under Part XVA are also available to all employees across wage levels.

According to the minister’s order, those who earn more than RM4,000 a month won’t be legally entitled under the Employment Act to benefits like pay for work on a rest day, paid overtime, allowance for shift work, extra pay for work on a paid holiday, and termination, lay-off and retirement benefits.

Before the minister’s order was gazetted, the amendment to the Employment Act repealed provisions in the principal legislation that explicitly extended maternity leave and allowance entitlement, as well as workplace sexual harassment protections, to employees irrespective of their earnings. 

Unlike amendments to an Act, which must be passed by Parliament, amendments made via a minister’s order can be gazetted unilaterally by the minister. 

The minister’s order comes into operation on September 1, 2022.

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