Galen: Longer Paternity Leave Improves Mothers’ Mental Health

MEF only granted three days instead of the seven days proposed by the government.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — The Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy today urged Malaysian workplaces to grant seven days’ paternity leave, after an employer’s group only agreed to three days.

Galen chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement that prolonged paternity leave can help deal with the new mother’s physical and mental health.

“The father’s presence shortly after childbirth can have important consequences for the new mother’s physical and mental health. It is incredibly short-sighted for the MEF to take this position,” he said, referring to the Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF).

“Studies have shown the benefits gained as a result of investing in more paid paternity leave, including improved mental health for mothers and children to more involved and confident fathers.

“Simply having fathers more available to help out with the newborn can lead to huge gains in mental health for mothers. A couple of days of extra support for the mother makes a strong difference.”

The MEF recently said that employers have agreed to grant three days’ paternity leave to fathers working in the private sector upon discussion with the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), instead of seven days as suggested by the government. MEF reportedly said its proposal was based on employers only partially financing the paternity leave.

Azrul mentioned that MEF’s decision only feeds into gender stereotypes, and will affect workplace equality.

“Begrudging granting paternity leave, including not willing to pay for it, sends a harmful signal that despite this being 2019, we are still being held back by two traditional stereotypes: that men are the primary breadwinners and women are the primary caregivers for children. These stereotypes are impeding equality and potential in the workplace and at home.”

He further drew examples from successful businesses around the world that practice better paternity leave policies, which allows for a more supportive workplace and increases employee productivity and loyalty.

“Malaysian dads, in comparison, are only asking for a week. It makes sense to provide at least seven days paid paternity leave,” he stated.

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