KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 – The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy today criticised the Human Resources Ministry’s alleged withdrawal of a proposed legal amendment to prohibit discrimination against job seekers.
The health think tank said the reported rejection of the proposed amendment to the Employment Act 1955 was expected to impact young people who are just entering the workforce, particularly women.
The proposed amendment, if passed, would have given individuals, both job seekers and employees, protection from discrimination by employers or potential employers on the basis of gender, religion, race, disability, language, marital status and pregnancy.
“Pregnancy and maternity discrimination are real problems encountered by pregnant women and young mothers. Many employers still feel that a woman should disclose whether she is pregnant during the recruitment process,” Galen CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement.
“In fact, it is considered reasonable to ask women about their plans to have children in the future, and whether they have young children.
“Women have encountered situations where their marital status and pregnancy have been considered reasons to not appoint them to positions for which they are qualified to fill.”
Azrul further said that both the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and the Ministry of Youth and Sports should be concerned by the sudden turn of events.
Malaysiakini reported that the Human Resources Ministry’s proposed anti-discrimination provision in the Employment Act was allegedly dropped after the Malaysian Employers Federation objected to it, claiming that the law could not regulate “pre-employment”.
The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) urged the ministry to reinstate legal protection against discrimination for job seekers.
The women’s group previously found in a 2016 survey that 20 per cent of respondents claimed their job applications were rejected or their offers revoked after employers discovered their pregnancy.