The purpose of this blog is to provide information on current issues in labour, employment and industrial law practices in Malaysia. Through this blog, both employers and employees may keep themselves abreast of developments in the ever-evolving labour and employment industry. We invite you to share your experiences with other readers and hope that you will find this Blog of interest to you.
A Bill was tabled in Parliament Thursday (July 11) to make it compulsory for employers to provide centralised accommodation for employees in all industrial sectors such as plantation, construction and manufacturing, including high-tech industries.
The Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) 2019 Bill was tabled by Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran in Parliament Thursday, which will also see increased fines against errant employers.
Previously, compulsory accommodation only covered estate workers.
The move to table the amendments is in compliance with international standards for developing countries with regard to workers' accommodation in line with the International Labour Organisation.
The changes in the law are aimed at ensuring sustainable economic growth for the country and attracting foreign investment, particularly in high-tech industries.
Among the key amendments include increasing penalties from the current maximum fines of RM1,000 and RM2,000 to a maximum fine of RM50,000.
The amendments also increase the RM100 fine imposed a day during which the offence continues to RM1,000 fine per day.
At the same time, the Bill seeks to compel an employer to provide a nursery for its workers if employees collectively have at least five dependants under the age of four living with them.
Previously, employers were required to provide a nursery for its employees with at least ten dependants under four years old.
Under the amendments, employers must provide accommodation that is in compliance with the minimum standard under the Act or regulations imposed.
The amendments also includes a new Section 24L, where employers or a centralised accommodation provider must appoint a person to be in charge of the safety and well-being of the employees.
Under Section 24G, employers are allowed to collect rent from the employee by way of salary deductions.
Under the amendments, employers are not bound to provide accommodation for employees' dependants.
The amendments covers Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan.
According to the Bill, the Sabah and Sarawak state governments have agreed that corresponding laws will be provided in their respective Labour Ordinance.
Working 40 hours in a week has been implemented in many developed countries, without any adverse effect towards employability and company’s profitability. PIC BY ROSELA ISMAIL
MALAYSIA’S new government had progressively made few changes for the betterment of the people as well as for the country.
As of now, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had managed to fulfil just 53 initiatives out of the 128 initiatives in total.
Some of the significant changes brought by the PH government include the implementation of the Sales and Services Tax, implementation of Employees Provident Fund contribution for housewives, stabilising the price of petrol and a few others.
Early this year, the monthly wage ceiling of RM1,100 or RM5.29 per hour was implemented as the standard minimum wage. The public discontentment was obvious as many felt the raise in minimum wage was paltry and perceived as inadequate to cope with rising living cost.
According to the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, the meagre rate was not enough and should have been increased based on the high cost of living including the rising prices of goods at the present time.
This opinion was supported by Bank Negara Malaysia’s 2018 annual report which stated that:
“Analysis examining the wage to productivity ratio showed that Malaysian workers are still being paid less than workers in benchmark economies, even after accounting for the different productivity levels across countries.”
This suggests that Malaysia’s current wage productivity levels are misaligned. Theoretically, the ideal wage levels for workers can only be realised if employers are able and willing to increase wages significantly. However, this might be difficult to do, especially for companies bent on maximising profits.
In another perspective, the government can help ease the pressure on workers by reducing the weekly working hours from 48 hours, as stated in the Employment Act 1955, to 40 hours a week. This amendment is the least the government can do to help employees from being overworked and underpaid.
The notion of working for 48 hours a week is rationally arguable. Working eight hours for six days is unseemly for workers, especially those with a family.
The more time spent at work will translate into less time available for participation in non-working life. Long working hours reduces opportunities for socially productive leisure by restricting the time available for being an effective marriage partner, parent and citizen.
Khazanah Research Institute also highlighted the problem of long working hours in Malaysia, which reduces time for relationships, leisure and other important pursuits.
Research has proven that long working hours does not necessarily lead to higher productivity and efficiency. Long working hours may instead lead to exhaustion and contribute to higher probability of employees committing errors during work. Overwork can also lead to sleep deprivation and stress.
According to a AIA vitality survey, 54.4 per cent of workers sleep under seven hours per night due to sleep problems caused by long working hours and stress.
Bank Negara Malaysia’s 2018 annual report also stated that higher labour productivity comes with higher wages and not by the duration of working time.
In Jakarta, the standardised working duration is 40 hours per week with seven or eight working hours per day as stated in the labour law, with the minimum wage of 3.94 million rupiah (RM 1,149).
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that labour laws would undergo major reforms to improve legislation related to labour and manpower, as well as to improve the wellbeing and social security of workers in Malaysia.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran had said that the labour law amendments were almost done and the amendment bills will be presented in Parliament next month. It is hoped the ministry will amend the working hours by reducing it from 48 hours to 40 hours per week.
Working 40 hours in a week has already been implemented in many developed countries, without any adverse effect towards employability and company’s profitability.
In Europe, a full-time employee works 40.3 hours in a working week, whereas the longest working hours is in the United Kingdom with 42.3 hours while Denmark has the shortest working hours with 37.8 hours per week.
In fact, people working in Denmark, Sweden and Norway with much fewer hours per week tend to be very productive, happy and healthy. Even in Indonesia, the labour law prescribes normal working duration of 40 hours per week.
In essence, the government should legislate a reduction in the number of working hours per week to produce more high quality employees with a happy lifestyle.
The writer is researcher at Institute for Research and Development of Policy (IRDP) By Aisyah Abdul Hadi NST
MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the government’s plan to amend the Employment Act 1955 to require employers to provide paternity leave. NSTP/File pic
KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah non-governmental organisation (NGO) is unhappy over the Malaysian Employers Federation’s (MEF) opposition to plans to introduce a three-day paternity leave for the private sector.
MEF had said that it was unnecessary and would add to the operating cost of employers.
The Society for Equality, Respect and Trust for All Sabah (Serata) said it was disheartened that MEF would prioritise profit over the welfare of the children and families of employees.
“While Serata understands the importance of profit for businesses, especially in these economically-challenging times, such a belief that paternity leave is not necessary is indicative of how deeply-rooted stereotypes are in Malaysia,” said Serata founder and chairperson Sabrina Melisa Aripen.
“This needs to change. In the world as they understand it, women work in lower paying jobs or as housewives, while men are primary breadwinners.
“That is not how it works anymore. In reality, more families are relying on two incomes, and at times it is possible that the wife actually holds a higher post than the husband, or earns more.”
She was responding to comments made by MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan on the government’s plan to amend the Employment Act 1955 to require employers to provide paternity leave.
He said MEF did not agree with the proposal as employers would have to spend more than RM150 million.
Sabrina said it was strange that Malaysian employers were still bickering over three days of paternity leave when neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Myanmar were already giving employees at least two weeks leave.
“The first few weeks after birth, a mother needs to take good care of herself to rebuild her strength and will need plenty of rest, good nutrition, and help during the first few weeks,” said Sabrina.
“Saying paternity leave is not necessary seems to be based on a few assumptions; firstly, that there is someone else to care for the new mother such as mothers and mothers-in-law, and secondly, that mothers are able to afford confinement care services or domestic helpers.
“The reality is not everyone has the privilege of having parents or in-laws who can assist, and not everyone can afford to pay for confinement care.”
Sabrina said Serata found it ironic that MEF had expressed support for the idea of a national vacation week, but put its foot down on paternity leave.
“If employers are serious about retaining their best staff and reducing recruitment costs, they should look at paternity leave as an employment benefit that will persuade people to stay, and not as a cost.
“In fact, studies have shown that a happy, more satisfied employee who is not stressed out about family care issues is much more able to focus on doing better at work.
“Saying that fathers can still bond with their children without the proposed three-day paternity leave is ignoring the problem of absent fathers in Malaysia,” she added.
Speaking at the Labour Law Conference 2019 this morning (11 June), YB Kula Segaran, Malaysia’s Minister of Human Resources revealed that the Ministry is working on a one-of-a-kind act for human resource practitioners aimed at accrediting and training HR professionals.
Currently the plan is in the stage of gathering information from stakeholders.
Speaking at Concorde Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Minister Kula Segaran cited plans to bring the ILMIA Research Centre, which falls under the HR Ministry, to international standards in order to position it as “the single source for accreditations”.
For those who are already in HR, he clarified: “We will make it as flexible as possible, we will make necessary exemptions for those that are already practicing.”
The reason for this act stems from the fact that for HR practitioners appearing in the Industrial Court and the Labour Court, the emphasis must be on them being “properly trained, properly accredited”.
These changes are over and above the five already-announced amendments that are due, namely:
Trades Union Act
Industrial Relations Act
Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act
Occupational Safety and Health ActOn this, he said: “With all these changes, it is going to be challenging. Out of the five amendments, hopefully we can get two or three (discussed) in the coming sitting,” referring to the next session of Parliament being held from 1 July 2019 – 18 July 2019.
He added: “We hope we can get the government approval, I’m on the last stage on the move to get paternity leave (three days), to reduce the number of working hours, and to increase the maternity leave from 60 days to 98 days.”
Further labour initiatives the Ministry is working on
Minister Kula Segaran noted how long it has taken to settle some labour cases on issues such as termination, including some which he has litigated as a lawyer, thus he took up the issue of the Appeals Court.
“The whole idea is to speed up the process which will create a win-win situation for both employers and employees involved. Hopefully the appellate can dispose off all cases within three months, and within a year everything would be completed.”
He noted that he is to hold at least two National Labour Advisory Council meetings every year, yet this year he has already had five such meetings.
Another topic for discussion is the labour court presiding officers. Presently, the practice is to have in-house presiding officers. “But in order to enhance the image of the labour court and its strength, I have proposed that we should have ad-hoc appointments from senior lawyers or retired judges to sit as presiding officers of the labour court.”
On the same topic, currently the quantum to bring a case to the Labour Court is RM 2000 and below; however, the Ministry is planning to make this unlimited, thus covering many more people under the labour amendment that it is planning to bring about, subject to capital approval. Movement on IR 4.0
“IR 4.0 – whether we like it or not it is on our doorstep,” Minister Kula Segaran affirmed. As such, the Ministry is pushing technical institutes to focus more technical/vocational training than getting students to universities, which is more of pure academics and might not be so relevant in IR 4.0.
For this push, he cited the case of the profession of doctors who are caught in a quandary with some of them not having got jobs for up to two years.
A cost of living allowance (COLA) of RM300, 98 days’ maternity leave, 7 days’ paternity leave, 30 days paid leave for Muslim workers to perform the Haj and housing allowances based on the cities are among the sweeping labour reforms sought by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
These are among the proposals MTUC has submitted to the Government which is in the midst of reviewing three key labour laws as promised by the Pakatan Harapan in its 14th General Election manifesto.
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said the labour laws in Malaysia had become archaic since most of the legislations were promulgated in the fifties and sixties.
“The environment has changed over the years, and there is far greater recognition about human dignity, human values, and workers rights. It is long overdue for a comprehensive overhaul of various labour laws.
“We thank the Human Resources Minister (M.Kulasegaran) who has initiated the Labour Law Reform under the new Government which MTUC has been championing since the1970s,” he said here today.
At the labour day celebrations on May 1, Kulasegaran said labour laws which would see amendment to provide better protection for workers were the Trade Unions Act 1959, the Occupational Safety and Heath Act 1994, the Industrial Relations Act 1967 and the Employment Act 1955.
The government was expected to table the amendments at Dewan Rakyat’s second sitting this year which will begin on July 1.
The MTUC's proposals, apart from increasing the minimum wage, includes:
• Maternity leave to be raised from 60 days to 98 days, and paternity leave of 7 days;
• Both domestic worker and foreign workers to be covered under the Employment Act;
• A 15-minute break for every two hours of work, to enable workers to do light stretching exercises to improve workers health and reduce medical cost;
• Medical examination, consultation and all treatments to be borne by the employer;
• Where there are more than 100 employees, the employer is to provide a child care centre within the vicinity of the company. Alternatively, pay an allowance of RM300 as child care subsidy for children aged 7 years and below, up to a maximum of 5 children;
• The employer is to provide a safe and hygienic room for lactating mothers;
• Increased sick leave of 30 days (currently 15) and 60 days hospitalisation irrespective of their years of service. The worker can utilise un-used sick leave for hospitalisation in addition to the 60 days hospitalisation;
• A Cost of Living Allowance of RM300 per month;
* Termination benefits shall be a minimum of 2 months for every year of service irrespective of the number of years of service;
• All Muslim workers be granted 30 days paid leave to perform haj; and
• Housing allowance of RM300 to workers in urban areas or alternatively to provide subsidy on housing loan interest rates for those earning less than RM10,000.
Meanwhile on union membership which stands at only about 6 per cent of the workforce today, Solomon said MTUC had proposed that union membership be made mandatory for every worker, and every worker had a right to be represented by the union in employment issues.
Solomon said Malaysia’s aim to achieve a high income nation not only needed quality workers but also quality employers as the workers wellbeing and dignity were important for increased productivity.
“The MTUC is confident that the Government and employers will seriously consider the above proposals. The need to bridge the income gap cannot be prolonged and all stakeholders need to change their mindset in sharing the wealth of the nation equitably as every Malaysian needs to contribute towards the progress of the nation.
“Workers too should change their work culture and behaviour in view of the need for Malaysians to grow and to have a share of the fruits of the high income nation,” Solomon said, adding that they had waited 60 years to see the labour law reform.
A former chief operating officer and executive director of Konsortium Transnasional Bhd has been awarded nearly RM2.5mil for unjust dismissal.
The amount is believed to be one of the highest in recent times for backwages and compensation in lieu of reinstatement.
Apart from this sum, the company is to pay another RM442,000 for Employees Provident Fund contribution.
Industrial Court chairman Fredrick Indran XA Nicholas ordered that the amount be paid to Tengku Mohd Hasmadi Tengku Hashim within the next six weeks.
According to the court award, Tengku Mohd Hasmadi claimed constructive dismissal from April 1, 2015, when, upon returning from a stint of annual leave he discovered that part of his job and duties were taken over by Muhammad Hariz Mohd Nadzmi, the son of Tan Sri Mohd Nadzmi Salleh, the company’s chairman.
Tengku Mohd Hasmadi felt not only humiliated but that the move also undermined his position and authority as the COO and executive director.
Prior to the said measures, Tengku Mohd Hasmadi was solely responsible for the group operations and the group support services.
He oversaw 10 subsidiaries within the group which comprised about 3,000 employees.
He contended that the purported “restructuring”, which was to take effect from April 1, 2015, was in fact the rearrangement of only his roles and responsibilities, and no one else, and done without any notice, consultation or approval by him.
“This exercise removed a considerable portion of the claimant’s responsibilities, which was handed over to the company chairman’s son – a 27-year-old at the time who, according to the claimant, had not even completed his studies,” Fredrick wrote in the award.
The company denied the contention and asserted that the restructuring was real.
The company said it even offered to restore two departments to be under Tengku Mohd Hasmadi to quell his dissatisfaction.
But it was to no avail. Tengku Mohd Hasmadi refused to report back to work as instructed while maintaining that the breach had not in fact been remedied.
According to the award, Mohd Nadzmi testified in court that this exercise was his “succession plan” for what he perceived to be his company, notwithstanding that it was in fact a public listed company.
The court held that the restructuring of Tengku Mohd Hasmadi’s duties and responsibilities was almost by way of an ambush.
“The company abdicated its responsibility to adequately address the issue, or indeed address it at all effectively, in order to right the situation in a fair and rational manner.
“All that was actually said in this court was that the organisational chart was readjusted for the third time to seemingly, but not actually put the claimant back into his original position.
“In the whole scheme of things in this case, it certainly comes across as a colourable exercise of managerial authority and is clearly tainted by unfair labour practice,” said Fredrick, ruling the dismissal as unfair.
After 11 years, a man who claimed to have been unlawfully dismissed from his job at the US embassy will finally have his case heard before the Industrial Court tomorrow.
PSM, who had been helping Subramaniam Letchimanan push for his case since 2008, said the former security guard at the US embassy had tried to pursue this matter throughout the years via relevant government departments, the ministry and legal avenues to no avail.
However, after they wrote to Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran on July 12, 2018, PSM said a reconciliation meeting was called in September last year and finally in April this year, Subramaniam received a letter informing him his case will be heard before the court on May 24, 2019.
"After working 20 years and being sacked within 24 hours, and then finally waiting 11 years for the case, may justice finally be delivered," said PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan in a statement today.
Subramaniam had been working as a security guard at the US embassy for over 20 years when he received a phone call from his supervisor on April 4, 2008 informing him that he had been terminated with immediate effect.
Arutchelvan said a month after he was terminated, Subramaniam lodged a report with the Industrial Relations Department (IRD) under Section 20 of the Industrial Relations Act for unlawful dismissal.
"In normal circumstances, the IRD will call for reconciliation meeting within three weeks but here it did not happen because he was fighting the US embassy - the world's superpower," Arutchelvan said.
Aside from the IRD, they also tried to pursue this matter through the Foreign Ministry, the Human Resources Ministry as well as the US embassy themselves in the past 11 years, he said.
"After 11 years, the case has finally been referred by the minister.
"The case will be heard for mention tomorrow at 8.30am, May 24, 2019 at the Jalan Tun Razak Industrial Court at the Socso building," Arutchelvan said. MalaysiaKini
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The Human Resources Ministry says there is no freeze in the recruitment of foreign workers but said many applications to bring in workers had been rejected due to non-compliance with the law.
The ministry said in a statement on Friday (May 17) that it was committed to ensuring that employers continue to abide by the country's labour laws and guidelines to check the practice of forced labour in the country.
In the past two years, 4,434 employers from the restaurant sub-sector had applied to hire foreign workers via the ePPAx System of the Peninsular Malaysia Manpower Department, and of this number only 1,407 applications involving 8,552 workers were approved, it said.
"As at April 2019, 796 applications to hire foreign workers were received. Of this number, 216 applications involving 1,840 foreign workers were approved and 580 applications were rejected.
PUTRAJAYA — A law governing internet use will be tweaked, said a minister following a teenager’s suicide after being egged on by “followers” on her social media account.
The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) will be amended to deal with and prevent similar incidents which occurred on Monday (May 13) in Padawan, Sarawak, said communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo.
The Multimedia and Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is also looking into whether those who had encouraged the 16-year-old to commit suicide could be prosecuted for abetting a crime, Mr Gobind said.
The remarks follow public anger against followers on the victim’s Instagram account, who allegedly pushed the girl to suicide.
“I am informed that the police are looking into (the incident) and I told MCMC to get in touch with them. Once we get the facts, MCMC is prepared to assist the police,” Mr Gobind told reporters after a visit to Pos Malaysia’s national mail centre in Shah Alam.
“At the same time, we want to look at how the CMA could be tweaked to deal with these problems and I’ve spoken about how to deal with cyber bullying before this.
“So, this something we have to look at and try and move. I will meet with MCMC and discuss how we will deal with issues like this in future.”
The teenager reportedly jumped off a building on Monday night, hours after she “polled” her Instagram followers whether she should live or die.
Earlier, the teenager posted “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”.
“D” was apparently for death and “L”, life. The poll, which is no longer found in her Instagram account, saw 69 per cent vote for D. Hours later, the girl was found dead.
Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament and Democratic Action Party legal bureau head Ramkarpal Singh urged police to probe into whether those who took part in the poll and voted for the teenager’s death had committed an offence under the Penal Code for aiding and abetting a crime.
Mr Gobind said the MCMC is also looking into whether such conduct by users on the teenager’s Instagram account could be construed as an offence under the CMA.
He added that the ministry and MCMC have yet to decide whether to call up Malaysia’s Facebook representative over the incident. The social media giant owns Instagram.
At the same time, Mr Gobind urged the media to use maximum discretion in their reporting of the incident, given its sensitivity.
“There have also been complaints about media reports covering the incident. We have to understand that there are many people directly involved and we should take steps so that when we report, we consider their (family’s) feelings and views.
“I will speak about this in more detail in the coming days but I think a reminder (to the media) in cases like this, please exercise discretion.” THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
The Human Resource Ministry will be setting up a task force to study a proposal on working at night for certain employment sectors.
Its Minister M. Kula Segaran said the proposal raised by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently needed a detailed study to obtain the views of various parties.
“After the study is completed, we will bring the matter to the cabinet,” he said at the Institute of Industrial Training, here today.
He was speaking to reporters after launching a Tamil book entitled ‘Kandi Seemai (Candy City)’ written by Maathalai Somu, a renowned writer from Sydney, Australia.
Kula Segaran, who is also the MP for Ipoh Barat, was commenting on a proposal by Dr Mahathir who wanted to implement a policy on the matter.
On Thursday, Dr Mahathir when speaking at the Muhibbah Networking Dinner organised by the Economic Bureau of Segambut Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Division at Laman Zarlith in Kuala Lumpur, said the government is thinking about moving day work to night-time for some specific sectors. - Bernama