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Guys, I really need ur honest opinions on maternity leave (not just from Mums). I’m researching my next Star column. Pls share ur thoughts with me?

I was reading the article in the Star about whether mothers should get 3 months maternity leave before returning to work instead of 2 months. I’m not a mother myself so I want to try to understand what everyone’s sentiments are on the topic? Especially if you’re a mother or father yourself.

If you’re not a parent but you’re working, how much has a new Mum on maternity leave affected the smooth running of your department? or organisation? What do your bosses think about it? If you’re a boss yourself, what’s your view?

It would really help me immerse myself in the topic once I hear everyone’s pros and cons.

I know some new mothers who were barely adjusting to motherhood and were not sleeping properly due to round the clock caring for their newborns felt the pressure to return to work, “2 months just flew past and I didn’t feel ready. I was so stressed out with the breast feeding due to complications…and before you know it, I had to get back to the office” was what one Mum told me.

From an employer’s perspective, the article I read recently in the Star said companies complained it reduced their productivity yet some companies took it upon themselves to GIVE 3 months anyway because they felt that’s what a mother would need as a minumum to adjust to motherhood and her new baby.

Then there’s also the question being raised about paternity leave. How about fathers who would like to get more involved and have more time to bond with their newborn babies? Would they feel robbed because they simply aren’t there? Especially, if they’re working long hours stuck in the office?

Plus, what if their wives need their men to be there to support them emotionally considering how some women get post partum depression after giving birth?

I know it’s more than one question I’m asking you guys but any input at all would be really appreciated. There are so many angles to look at, so many perspectives to consider on the topic.

Thanks so much!!
Jojo Struys
Live The Moment


8 Responses to “Guys, I really need ur honest opinions on maternity leave (not just from Mums). I’m researching my next Star column. Pls share ur thoughts with me?”

  1. Wow.. 2 months are too short.. One of my colleagues gave birth to a baby and she was away for almost a year. I think my company allowed 6 months maternity leave. But though, it’s Australia

    3 months (at least) would be enough to squeeze through for bond establishment between the newborn and the parents but I do not believe that 3 months is sufficient for a healthy upbringing of the baby .

  2. As a father myself, I felt that maternity leave should be extended to 3 months to allow more rest for the mother before going back to work.

    As for resource issues in workplace, it can be easily resolved if the manager plans ahead. In fact, the manager is given more than half a year to plan some sort of coverage. If the office goes haywire, its the manager’s fault, not the mothers.

    Paternity leave should be a week (not asking a lot here) since the other parent has to take care of things like hospital/birth registration and help the mother cope with the first week of birth.

  3. No matter how many months is given it will not be enough for a mom to seriouslly bond with her baby, let alone the need to recuperate, breast feed etc. 3 months maternity leave is at least any employer should permits their staff to take.

    Poductivity is always a fact issue for maternity leave, is not about the money but fairness towards other colleuge who has to take over the task at hand.

    I opine that the maternity mum should have her 2 months salary paid over the 3 months period and allow the 3rd month salary treated as allowance for her deserving colleuge. iF NOT Bosses SHOULD chip in. !!!


  4. I’m a boss and one of my staff will be going on a maternity leave at the end of this month for her 4th child. She has been with my company for 2 years and yes, I believe that she does deserve to take this time off given the work and service she has shown us etc.

    One thing undeniable, Malaysia has one of the shortest periods of paid maternity leave in the world at 60 days. There is also no paternity leave as well (although this is not common in most countries either).

    The question being raised is: “Is it fair for employers to extend the maternity leave from 2 months to 3 months and should paternity leave for say 2 weeks be given also?”

    As an employer there I would like to answer this question with a resounding “yes”, but I can’t quite do that without shuttering at the same time at the thought of things in the office going haywire.

    The fact of the matter is that losing a staff in your office who is responsible for specific work that she does day in and day out is tough and stressful. This is why many offices prefer to implement a rotation system in their office but what about those offices that do not do that or what about the ones which have only up to 2-3 staffs who are specific in their task and duties? Rotation is not always possible.

    The first thing a boss will try to do as I did is to prepare early to get a contract staff to fill the gap and get that person in earlier so that the permanent staff that is to go on leave may show the contract staff the ropes but believe me, this is easier said than done.

    Support in terms of efficient, effective and quality contract staff in Malaysia is very weak. You would be surprised but some people that come in for an interview to fill the gap cannot even send a fax or type a letter. They are most often completely inadequate. The ones who are adequate in terms of general skill are often overqualified and yet at the same time still lack the background knowledge to properly take on the specific tasks.

    As you may already notice, it is quite cumbersome and may keep bosses up at night to find the right contract staff to fill the gap. I went through more than 60 people interviewed to fill the gap left in my office and the 4 selected after the initial interview had to be let go after 2-3 days as they couldn’t cope with the specific task at hand. Yes, replacing a good staff is hard to do.

    Should extra month given to the current 2 months paid leave? I believe in principle that it should but bare in mind that Malaysia is unique in terms of the problems we bosses will face if this happens. We have an inefficient, ineffective and inadequate pool of contract workers available to fill the gap and I’m sure this is also true in most developing nations. It is not a question of money but rather a question of the ability to source a quality replacement in order to ensure the continuity of a smooth running office environment. I still believe that our job market is not developed yet to the point that bosses can source skilled and effective replacement contract workers with reasonable ease and this is what causes the hangup.

    Although I believe that the 3 months is fair and warranted, I do believe we have to understand the job market well and keep the realities that bosses face in these situation in mind. Is it really easily done in this emerging and developing country where skilled and effective workers especially in specific industries are seriously lacking? Will it do more harm than good? Is the private sector ready for such a law? What happens to productivity?

    Is it fair and warranted? Yes it is but is it realistic and conductive without causing too much disruptions in the offices? Maybe bosses can tolerate chaos for 2 months as the temp makes mistakes left and right causing the company to almost wind itself up (exaggeration) but can they hang on for 3 months?

    P/S: On a more direct topic: Fathers should definitely be given at least 2 weeks off paid leave for them to tend to their family in this time of need. This is a given and should be done without hesitation.

  5. Hi Jojo, That is a great topic!
    I worte what my feelings are abou tit on my blog pls feel free to drop by.
    I’m all for extra time for the parents and for the kids as well!
    Jojo in our malaysian environment we talk alot about family & being a caring society but are we really caring? I remeber 5 yrs ago i had to breast-feed my child in the changing room of the reject shop becaus ethere was no baby’s room in the whole shopping complex! once even in guardians at the back where the pharmasist station is! many toilets for mom’s with small kids has been turned into a store for the cleaners!
    In the work site, it doesn’t matter if it’s an office uilding or a factory, can anyone tell me where it is ever friendly for breast feeding mom’s we often have to express our milk in the toilets!
    The health minstry promotes breastfeeding but it ends when u leave the hospital!
    but i’ve runaway from the topic here. anyway, we do need to remember parents are the once who will create the next generations so ….. take care of them.

  6. First 3 months is Absolutely crucial for several reasons. Firstly only after 3 months a baby starts to hv a routine I.e sleeping & feeding. Mama starts to get a longer stretch of sleeping hrs. For me, having 4 consecutive hours sleep was a privilege drg 1st 3 months. Imagine how zombiefied a mom can b if she has to return to work after 2 months only? Secondly becos feeding routine is established after 3 months,breast milk supply is more established as well. So mama has mre milk to pump when she returns2 work. Many bosses feel it’s like a holiday for d mama. Trust me, it’s a 24 hr job looking after a newborn. As for paternity leave, yes d hubby shld get to as mama needs all d help & support cos they r suppose to be a team to care for their newborn. High time Msia recognizes d importance of this. There must b a valid reason y our neighboring countries support 3 months maternity.

  7. Should allow for moms to have a minimum of 3 months paid leave and option of another 3 months unpaid. I would have preferred my wife to spend 6 months with the kids.

  8. As a husband, 3months shall be sufficient for my wife to “recuperate” from the labor. The 1st month hv a lot of pantang larang. 2nd & 3rd month continue the Breast feeding. We cant bring along our baby to work right? Isnt the WHO & the Health Ministry strongly encouraged breast feeding? But how many offices & factories have breast feeding room?
    As a father, hopefully the goverment will support the 3months maternity leave incl. 2 weeks leave for father too. Mind you, the first 2 weeks are very crucial to the infants. Birth certificate application & name selection also needs time.
    As a BOSS.. Who gonna pays?
    As a colleagues. Suddenly my work load increase without any pay rise..but I feel happy for her.

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