John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING: The Sarawak Patriot Association (SPA) supports paternity leave by the private sector.

SPA president Datuk John Lau Pang Heng, however, suggests the private sector implement six days of paternity leave.

“Mothers have 60-day maternity leave, so 10 per cent of that for fathers will be fair,” he pointed out.

Lau added that there should be some criteria for a father to quality for paternity leave.

John Lau Pang Heng

“First, the child must be a Malaysian born in Sarawak. The father should also be lawfully married to the child’s mother for the duration between conception and birth.

“Lastly, the employee should have served his employer for a minimum continuous period of three months before the child’s birth.”

The SPA president said private companies should support paternity leave because doing so would motivate the staff and increase their productivity.

“Otherwise, they may be physically present in the office, but their thoughts will be at home with their newborn babies and their significant other who is looking after the children,” explained Lau.

He added the time off would also be a good opportunity for the father to drive his other children to school while the mother looked after the newborn.

Looking at the policies in other countries, Lau remarked, “Singapore and Australia allow government officers two-weeks paternity leave.”

He strongly believes that more support should be given to fathers, particularly those who are young and very involved in raising their children.

“When a mother has just delivered, she needs to take care of her newborn baby. Some families have other young children, so it will be an even bigger challenge for the mother to look after them, too. Thus, it is important for the father to be around during the first week when a new baby is born,” said Lau.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah has urged the private sector to accept the proposal for three-day paternity leave.