The Social Security Organisation (Socso) will amend the Employment Insurance System Act 2017 this year to provide the allocation of childcare grants to women who are returning to work, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Nancy Shukri.
She said this one-month grant, equalling 80% of the insured monthly salary, will be provided to approximately 136,800 women who return to work after long maternity leave, amounting to RM290 million.
“Therefore, continuous efforts are being taken by the government to close the gender gap, starting with protection and benefits for women in the workforce,” she said in her opening address at the 2023 World Women Economic and Business Forum in Kuala Lumpur today.
In addition, Nancy said the Employment Act (Amendment) 2022 introduced several significant changes to the previous act that aimed at benefiting both employees and employers in Malaysia, which includes increasing women's participation in the workforce.
The amended act increased the length of paid maternity leave from 60 days to 98 days.
The act also introduced a new section that prohibits an employer from terminating the service of an employee who is pregnant or is suffering from an illness arising out of her pregnancy.
"The ongoing legislative reforms, policies and plans reflect the government's commitment to supporting women such as childcare or return to work policies by building a society of equal opportunities," she said.
In the 12th Malaysia plan, Nancy noted that the government aspires to increase female labour participation to 59% by 2025.
"This is important as it sends a signal that women can make it to the top, challenging stereotypes such as only women need to balance career and family commitments, the deep-rooted bias that men should have more power and privilege than women, and the belief that women are more emotional and thus hindering the promotion of women," she said.