Who Gets Maternity Leave? The Case of Malaysia


This paper evaluates a maternity leave policy designed to reduce gender inequality in the labor market. It examines the extent to which Malaysia's paid maternity leave policy provides working women with leave as a condition of their employment. Since all women are not the same, a policy may benefit some women and not others. Using data from the Second Malaysian Family Life Survey, the paper estimates the likelihood of a woman's receiving maternity leave as a function of demographic, employment, and occupational variables. The results show that being Indian, having higher education, holding jobs that are full‐time and all‐year, holding jobs with higher earnings at the start, and holding professional and clerical occupations increase the likelihood that a woman will receive maternity leave. These results imply that Malaysia's maternity leave policy does not provide broad coverage to working women—that is, only some women under some conditions in some occupations tend to receive leave. The evidence suggests that women in the primary sector of the labor market receive leave while women in the secondary sector do not.

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Contemporary Economic Policy