According to The Malay Mail Online, Malaysia’s Human Resources Ministry said it would not allow discrimination against pregnant women at work and vowed to protect informants.
In fact, deputy human resources minister Datuk Ismail Abd Muttalib urged those with complaints or information of alleged discrimination against women in the workplace to step forward, saying that the ministry will probe such claims.
In an oral response in parliament, he said: “I will not allow discrimination (against) female employees. The ministry will carry out investigations on any companies that discriminate. If there are such cases, come to us, make a report.”
“We will investigate, we won’t allow discrimination to workers, including those who are pregnant and those who have delivered,” he added.
This was in response to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, who had pressed the ministry to provide assurance that pregnant women seeking employment would not be turned away because of their pregnancy.
Citing a women’s rights advocacy group Women’s Aid Organisation’s research, it found that women faced workplace discrimination, including some who were blocked from promotions or had to postpone their pregnancy.
“A pregnancy discrimination act should be considered for implementation because if we want women to progress together in changing the nation’s economy, then we have to think of a progressive policy like developed nations so women are not discriminated,” she said.
Highlighting the crucial need for women to be in the workforce to contribute to the nation’s economy, she added: “Discrimination (against) women is discrimination (against) the nation.”
Datuk Ismail responded by saying that the ministry is carrying out a holistic review of existing labour laws such as the Employment Act. The ministry will also be paying attention to practices in developed countries.
“There are no laws that say it’s an offence for any employer who does not hire pregnant women as employees,” he had earlier said.
He said women who had been terminated from employment due to their pregnancy could seek to be reinstated, saying that employees dissatisfied with alleged discrimination could even file civil lawsuits in court.
He had also noted that only one complaint had been filed with the ministry during the 2014 to 2016 period over alleged workplace discrimination involving women.