PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has lauded Putrajaya for undertaking a string of “bold” unprecedented moves for women in Budget 2018 that would help alleviate them from being marginalised.
Its secretary-general J. Solomon said the requirement for all government-linked companies, including investment companies, to have at least 30% women participation in their boards of directors, with implementation by the end of 2018, was in line with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“We congratulate the government for taking this move in addressing women being sidelined throughout the years,” he said.
“We also welcome the government’s suggestion that it should be mandatory for the private sector to increase maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days,” he added.
He said since this was merely a suggestion, the MTUC hoped that the private sector would take the cue and make it their policy.
He said a mandatory requirement enforceable on private firms could only be done through the legislative process.
“It is also encouraging that the government has taken the bold move in facilitating early departure from work for pregnant mothers of five months and above,” he added.
Solomon also said the directive for local authorities to ensure that childcare facilities are provided in all new office buildings, starting with Kuala Lumpur, would hopefully motivate current employers to also undertake the “moral obligation” towards their employees.
He added that the allocation of RM27 billion for healthcare was encouraging because people could then make use of government hospitals instead of spending huge amounts of money on private hospitals.
In his speech when tabling the budget in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Razak also announced personal income tax exemption to encourage women to return to the workforce after a career break of at least two years, based on their earnings on maximum of 12 months consecutive salary received.
He said the incentive would be available for women who return to the workforce between the years of assessment from 2018 to 2020.
Najib, who is finance minister, also said the government would designate 2018 as “Women Empowerment Year” in recognition to the contributions of women.