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Govt mulls extending work-from-home facility with full pay, says Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR (March 8): The government is looking into extending the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for both public- and private-sector staff and giving full pay to enable workers to care for an ailing family member or, in the case of men, to help their wives look after a newborn child.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the move is meant to encourage shared responsibility and enable women to remain in employment as well as increase women’s work productivity.

"I suggest that the Public Service Department and the Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR) look into the feasibility of extending this facility," he said in his pre-recorded Women's Day 2021 speech broadcast over several television networks today.

The prime minister said the government is also looking into extending the WFH arrangement to workers whose spouses had just died as matters related to the loss of loved ones normally take time to be settled.

Muhyiddin also strongly urged all parties concerned to ensure the provision of a safe working environment, including taking measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

"[They must] also ensure that all aspects of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation are based on gender-responsive budget analysis," he said.

He also called on the public and private sectors to take advantage of government grants for the establishment of childcare centres (TASKA) on their work premises, which he said would give a multiplier effect for many parties.

In addition, in line with the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world" as announced by UN Women for International Women's Day 2021 celebration, Muhyiddin said women's voices should be heard at a higher level, and they should be included as decision makers, in accordance with their areas of expertise.

On business facilities for women, the prime minister said under MyDigital and the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, the government would provide incentives called MyKasih Kapital.

"This is a business capital injection for businesses such as e-commerce or drop ship with a maximum capital of RM1,000 each for at least 2,000 eligible recipients," he said.

The government will also set up the WAJA Squad, with the participation of women in the community to provide psychosocial support and raise awareness of criminal issues to stop violence against women, as well as strengthen public knowledge of women’s rights.

Muhyiddin also drew attention to the lack of involvement of all parties in providing an environment that supports and encourages women's empowerment.

"Indirectly, the silent motherhood penalty seems to be a subject that is accepted by all," he said, referring to a term coined by sociologists who argue that in the workplace, working mothers encounter systematic disadvantages in pay, perceived competence and benefits relative to childless women.

He added that the Covid-19 pandemic had also made the issue increasingly critical and significant.

In the meantime, the prime minister said several facilities were announced by the government under the Economic Stimulus Package through the PRIHATIN, PENJANA, PERMAI, MyDigital and Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint initiatives as well as in Budget 2021 which directly benefits women in the pandemic recovery phase.

“To ensure that women's empowerment continues to be an important national agenda, I welcome the proposal from the minister of women, family and community development for the Women's Empowerment Model to be the driver of women's development in the country.

“I call on all everyone to join forces in achieving this agenda, so that all women can be empowered inclusively. With this initiative, more women are rising up to face the current challenges,” he said.

This year's Women's Day celebration is themed "Choose to Challenge". 

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