Nearly all of the statutory protection afforded to the employee as enshrined in the Employment Act 1955 is usually limited to the employee based on their respective wages and type of work.
However, Maternity Protection in the Employment Act 1955 at Chapter IX places significant and stringent obligations on employers regardless of the salary of their employees.
Section 44A Employment Act 1955 states that maternity protection provisions are applicable to all employees regardless of wages earned.
This is where the law on maternity protection differs from the other provision of the Employment Act.
What are the entitlements?
MATERNITY LEAVE AND MATERNITY ALLOWANCE
37. (1) (a) Every female employee shall be entitled—
(i) to maternity leave for an eligible period in respect of each confinement; and
(ii) subject to this Part, to receive from her employer a maternity allowance to be calculated or prescribed as provided in subsection (2) in respect of the eligible period.
Hence Female Employee are entitled to both maternity leave and maternity allowance during their respective confinement. The eligible period for maternity leave means a period of maternity leave of not less than sixty consecutive days.
What is the definition of Confinement under the Employment Act 1955?
Confinement as defined in Section 2 Employment Act 1955 is;
Confinement means parturition resulting after at least twenty-two weeks of pregnancy in the issue of a child or children, whether alive or dead, and shall for the purposes of this Act commence and end on the actual day of birth and where two or more children are born at one confinement shall commence and end on the day of the birth of the last-born of such children
We also must note that the Employment Act utilizes the term “Every female employee” hence, it would include all female employee regardless of their marital status
Most employer and employee must be aware that there is a common misconception that employers are not eligible for maternity allowance merely coz they had resigned prior to their confinement
A female employee shall be entitled to receive maternity allowance for the eligible period from her employer if;
(i) she has been employed by the employer for a period of, or periods amounting in the aggregate to, not less than ninety days during the nine months immediately before her confinement; and
(ii) she has been employed by the employer at any time in the four months immediately before her confinement;
This is important to note that employees that are no longer in employment during their confinement will be eligible for maternity protection if the female employee satisfies the condition stated above and make the necessary notification.
Further it is important of employers to be aware thata female employee shall not be entitled to any maternity allowance if at the time of her confinement she has five or more surviving children.
There is also an important restriction of termination of a female employee during the period of confinement where an employer who terminates the service of a female employee during the period in which she is entitled to maternity leave commits an offence under the Employment Act with the exception on the ground of closure of the employer’s business.
Hence Employers must place strict observance of the provision of maternity protection and cannot take lightly the provision of maternity protection as if it is breached there are penal consequences under Section 94 Employment Act 1955 which provides that an employer who—
(a) fails to grant maternity leave to a female employee employed by him and entitled thereto under Part IX;
(b) fails to pay the maternity allowance to a female employee employed by him and entitled thereto under Part IX, or to her nominee, or to her personal legal representative;
(c) fails to pay maternity allowance in the manner prescribed in section 38;
Commits an offence of law under the law which can be punished if convicted of a fine not exceeding RM 10,000.00 for each offence.
Premjit Singh is the Managing Partner of Prem & Associates and he can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile at 012-5236755