Family Friendly Policies are policies designed to enable employees to balance the demands of paid work and personal life towards minimizing the impact of work upon family life.
The factors that motivate the need for immediate implementation of family-friendly policies are:-
1. To assist women in career advancement;
2. To enhance women’s financial standing; and
3. To achieve a harmonious and healthy society.
Since the beginning of 1980s, the number of female University students in Malaysia continue on the raise. In 2011, the statistic of female graduates has recorded a height of 57%, which is much higher than the male graduates. However, it is regrettable to note that there is no significant growth in the female employment rate and for many years the number had remain stagnant between 44% and 47%. Beside, there is also this inequality in salary between male and female employees notwithstanding that both the male and female employees are of the same seniority and doing similar kind of duties. The women employees invariably will always be paid a lower salary. The participation of women in the executive level remains below 10%.
As we all understand, the main reasons attributed to the low employment rate of women employees in Malaysia are:-
1) workplace environment and policies. Some child-bearing employees were compelled to quit employment due to insufficient maternity support and care including maternity leave.
2) lack or absence of childcare centers or inadequate childcare services had also resulted in some women employees unable to continue working.
3) the obstacle of the glass ceiling and inequality in salary structures are also factors which had retarded and in some cases terminated women from career advancement and enhancing their financial standing.
Family friendly policies are part of a win-win situation. Everyone involved benefits from them. The policies are good for the children, parents and eldest; they are in the best interest of employers in the long run, benefiting communities and the society in general. Some of the specific reasons why family-friendly policies are worthy to strive for are as follows:-
– stabilizing family income and preventing poverty.
– lessening inequalities linked to age, gender, family structure and household income.
– supporting “work-life balance”.
– furthering gender equality.
– granting parents time to care for their children and their elders thus fostering the bondage between parent and child and the relationship among family members.
– improving children’s well-being and educational outcomes.
– alleviating labor shortages and lessening the dependency on foreign maid.
– preventing the under-utilization of women’s invaluable human capital.
– raising and maintaining high level of national productivity.
Premise upon the above, we urge our Government to re-visit and recognize the importance and necessity of family friendly policies, to view positively and seriously the disparity between men and women genders socially financially and politically which had adversely affected Malaysia’s performance and standing internationally.
We appeal to the Government:-
1) to establish an independent and special taskforce to investigate into the factors resulting in low employment rate among women.
2) base on the outcome of the investigation, to render immediate help and assistance to the less fortunate and needy stratum of the society.
3) to fix the minimum household income at RM1,200.00 per month and to provide children from families with such monthly income with free transportation, daycare centers and medical services.
4) to promote awareness of equality in wages for both men and women.
5) employees doing the same type of job, to eliminate all forms of wrong perception and discrimination against women.
6) to set a time frame of five (5) years to attain the target of 30% of women participation in policy making process.
7) to set up systematically appropriate nursing and childcare services in all township and housing estate.
8) to impose upon private entrepreneurs and business to compulsorily set up childcare centers in all offices and to provide specific guidelines and supervision together with subsidy to maintain such centers.
9) to encourage private sector to provide welfare amenities such as: 90 days maternity leave, 15 days paternity leave, 30 days paid childcare leave and 150 days childcare leave without pay without loss of former employment, seniority or allowances. The Government to grant incentives such as tax reliefs to employer for implementing family-friendly policies.
10) to encourage public and private sectors to introduce flexible working time arrangements for married women.
We earnestly hope the Government recognizes women’s enormous contribution towards families, communities and nation. Family friendly policies can help shape a healthy and harmonious society beneficial to the nation. We shall fervently keep vigilance on our Government to honour and implement family friendly policies. We strongly believe the well-being of our Malaysian Women require the joint and consolidated effort of all the “rakyat”.