The world is slowly, but surely moving into a demographic winter, with more golden seniors than new births. This phenomenon is not limited to Western countries but is creeping slowly, and stealthily into our neck of the woods. China, Korea, and Japan are struggling with their populations or lack thereof. And, nearer home, Singapore, has its fair share of challenges too. Photo Credit: Architectural Digest The Solution? While there is no quick-fix solution, perhaps a sure-fire way to encourage more babies would be better maternity, and paternity benefits, for a start. With this in mind, let's see how Malaysia stacks up. Photo Credit: ORF Maternity Leave & Paternity Leave in Malaysia Maternity Benefits - A Brief Overview Our paid maternity benefits are encapsulated in the Employment Act of 1955, which makes it age. It is 65 years old this year!\u00a0 To help you sieve through the Act, we have picked up some salient points to give you an idea of what's in store for Mums (and Dads) out there. Photo Credit: Half The Sky 60 or 90? As it stands currently, paid maternity leave is for 60 days, if you are in the private sector, that is. For Government servants, they get 90 days paid maternity leave. Thankfully, there are some good, conscientious employers out there, who have upped the ante by providing 90 days maternity leave, or more, as part of their employment benefits. Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times The Benefit Of\u00a0 Longer Maternity Leave A Time To Settle The arrival of a new baby is always a joyful occurrence, with celebrations abounding. However, all mothers know full well that in the days following the baby's birth, life can be frenetic. Having a little more time to settle, and bond with the baby, is always a boon. Plus, if you have other children at home, the extra time will strengthen family ties, as older siblings adjust to the new addition in the family. Photo Credit: Narayana Health Breast Is Best The benefits of breastfeeding, for those who do so, can never be overstated. Having more maternity leave means the baby will be able to get her nourishment straight from Mum a little longer, thus prolonging demand feeding. Photo Credit: Pinterest Staving Off Daycare In the absence of trustworthy help, the availability of good daycare is a boon. However, no matter how well run, and clean the establishment is, kids pick up all sorts of germs, when there. Newborns are particularly susceptible. Staving off daycare a little longer, helps your little one build up her immunity. Photo Credit: Yi Li Photography What About Dads? Government Sector Government servants have it better than those in the private sector. Under the Pekeliling Perkhidmatan Bilangan 9 Tahun 2002, Dads get 7 days paternity leave. Leave starts on the day of delivery, or the next day, latest. It runs 7 days consecutively, regardless of rest days and Public Holidays. Additionally, the benefit can only be used 5 times and is subject to approval.\u00a0 Photo Credit: theAsianparent Private Sector Under the Employment Act, Dads do not get any paternity leave. Sorry Dads! There have been murmurings about mandating paternity leave, but nothing has been cast in stone, as yet. Fingers crossed for the future, though. As for now, any paternity benefits lies in the graciousness, and benevolence within individual companies. Dads out there, if you are in a company that affords staff with paternity leave, that company's a keeper for sure. As for now, only some multinationals fall into this bracket, with a smattering of private firms. Photo Credit: GetDoc How do Maternity Benefits work? With maternity benefits as a given for Mums-to-be, it is easy to take it for granted. But, here is a rundown of the mechanics. An Expecting Mother's Right Regardless of wage, all expectant Mums are entitled to maternity leave. Depending on where they work, it can be for either 60 or 90 days.\u00a0 Some companies allow staff to take more than 90 days of maternity leave as part of their benefits package. However, paid maternity leave is mandated by law for 60 days. For more time off, it falls on the employer to decide if the staff on extended leave will be given full, or partial pay. Alternatively, employers can also require staff to go on unpaid leave, even as they allow for prolonged maternity leave. Maternity leave is also a given, whether or not expressly specified in the employment contract. Likewise, any contract which expressly states otherwise is void under the law. Additionally, no employee can be terminated while on maternity leave, unless the employer goes out of business. Photo Credit: Wild Apricot Time Is Of The Essence Maternity leave runs consecutively, regardless of Public Holidays, and rest days.\u00a0 While 60, or 90 days may seem like a long time, the fact is, the days just whoosh by! If you would like to extend your maternity leave, you can bring it up with your employer to see if he is amenable to the additional days off. That way, you can accumulate your annual leave, or any other entitled leave benefits, and extend your maternity leave, to its furthest reaches. Just one thing, it would be best to have that discussion earlier rather than later so he has the time to plan, and prepare, for your absence. Photo Credit: AsiaOne 5:5 Ratio Paid maternity leave is capped at 5 births, for 5 living children. For more than 5 babies, maternity leave, while allowed, can be regarded as unpaid leave, by law. Fingers crossed, that the future may see better things in store for mothers with bigger families.\u00a0 Photo Credit: Journal-News Per Birth, Per Time Regardless of whether you have one baby, twins, or even triplets, maternity leave is fixed at 60 (or 90) days, per time.\u00a0 If you need more time off, it would be best to discuss your needs with your employer to see if he can work something out. Photo Credit: Huda Luna Hussin Advancing The Date? You can take maternity leave before the baby is due. To advance the date, just make sure it is within 30 days from the date of your delivery.\u00a0 Another thing, maternity leave must commence no later than 1 day immediately following your confinement. Photo Credit: Bindmans LLP Full Disclosure Be sure to mention your pregnancy during your interview selection process. Full disclosure is always the better way forward. That makes it easier for your prospective employer to plan ahead, for when you are on maternity leave. As long as you have been employed with the Firm for at least 4 months prior to baby's arrival, and have worked continuously for 90 days, you are eligible for paid maternity leave.\u00a0 Photo Credit: The Straits Times Covid-19 Landscape While challenges abound under the Covid-19 landscape, there are some silver linings. And some, not so silver ones. Photo Credit: SpineUniverse Working From Home Prior to the pandemic, working from home was the exception, rather than the norm. With the onset of the virus, things made an about-turn overnight. With working from home the norm, those who can do so may find it affords them quality\u00a0and quantity time with the family. Everyone profits from it; baby, kiddos, and Mums and Dads, too. A silver lining to an otherwise dark, and dreary time. Photo Credit: Equitable Growth Those Back At The Office For those whose jobs need them at the office, here's hoping the future may bring winds of change with better maternity leave, and benefits.\u00a0 The same goes also for the fathers out there, sorely in want for paternity benefits. Photo Credit: SJ Echo Paternity Leave For the fortunate Dads out there who are entitled to paternity leave, here are some points to consider when applying for your benefit. Speak Ahead Of Time It is best to advise your employer that you are expecting a baby as soon as is feasible. In this way, time off, before, or after the baby is born, will be easier for you. Certs Needed Be prepared to show your employer your marriage cert (if required), and baby's birth cert (definitely required), when you get back to work. Be In The Know Brush up knowledge of your company's paternity leave policy. Since paternity leave is still very much in its inception in Malaysia, the paternity leave policy of your company may differ from that of another. Photo Credit: Pregnant.sg With that, we hope that the horizons of maternity leave and paternity leave in Malaysia landscapes out there are clearer, and easier to navigate. Fingers crossed that the future will see better benefits for both Mums, and Dads. After all, that is only best for baby, best for family, and best for you.