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Pregnant Govt Staff Laud One Hour ‘Discount’

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PUTRAJAYA – Traffic congestion is synonymous with stress for many if not every motorist.

So when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced in Budget 2018 that civil servants who were pregnant from the fifth month or 22 weeks onwards would be allowed to leave their workplace one hour earlier, the target group was elated.

Zakiah Hanim Zainal Awaluddin, 34, a communications officer in the Prime Minister’s Department is nine months pregnant and has to bear a tiresome two hours in braving the daily congestion to reach home.

She said the one hour ‘discount’ allowed her to beat the jam and fetch her three-year-old son from the babysitter in Shah Alam, Selangor in good time.

“At least I can avoid the congestion, which is so tiring and reach home within one hour,” she told Bernama.

She said the one hour flexibility reflected the government’s concern for the welfare and safety of its female workforce.

Public Service Department (JPA) assistant administrator Norhaslinda Mohd Rosli, 36, who is 27 weeks pregnant shared similar views, adding that it would motivate female staff to serve the public with greater commitment.

According to the mother of five aged between five years and 12 years, staff in certain departments needed to move around from one division to another, so being allowed to leave earlier meant pregnant women would get a longer rest.

“But of course it does not mean that we would neglect our responsibilities; we have a duty to complete our tasks,” she said.

She said the prime minister’s announcement was a surprise to her but a very pleasant one indeed.

JPA Information Technology (IT) officer Nor Khafifah Jalany, 33, expressed her gratitude to the government for introducing the initiative.

“I am 20 weeks’ pregnant and can’t wait to reach 22 months,” she said jokingly, adding, her husband who is also an IT officer at the Rural and Regional Development Ministry had also applied for the same flexibility.

“He is eligible for it as we travel to and from our workplace together. We will be able to fetch our two children from the preschool earlier than usual,” she said.

Norazlina Lambo, 33, who is seven months pregnant opined that the one hour discount was not only a great help but gave pregnant women like herself more time to rest after work.

Although her workplace is a short distance from her home, the administrative assistant in the Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s corporate communications division appreciated the one hour leisure she could enjoy before seeing to the needs of her two children aged seven years and two years.

“Getting home earlier for the first time was such a relief. Usually after work and fetching the children from the babysitter’s house, I immediately set to do housework. My feet also hurt from standing too long.

“Even though it is only for one hour, the good rest refreshed me for the housework,” she said. – BERNAMA

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