Calls for strong flexible work laws in Malaysia

A labour group in Malaysia has stressed the need to revise regulations, citing employer dominance in work arrangement decisions.
By: | April 22, 2024

The Social Protection Contributors Advisory Association Malaysia (SPCAAM) has called upon the government to revisit labour laws, advocating for amendments that would foster improved workplace flexibility across the nation.

Callistus Antony D’Angelus, International Labour Advisor of the SPCAAM, emphasised the need for a substantial revision in labour regulations to empower employees in Malaysia with greater autonomy in determining their work arrangements. While acknowledging Human Resources Minister Steven Sim’s affirmation that employees could request flexible work setups from their employers, D’Angelus highlighted the prevalent issue where employers retain ultimate decision-making authority in such matters.

He also elaborated on the necessity for policymakers and ministers to move beyond mere recitation of legal provisions, advocating for a proactive reassessment of existing frameworks to align with evolving societal needs.

“The provisions in law for accommodations due to circumstances such as elderly care, disability and childcare have not kept up with the progress made globally over the past few decades,” he explained. “There has been a lot more awareness of mental health and its impact at the workplace, as an example, and local laws need to progress with time.”

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Citing the Employment Act as a vestige of colonial-era employment norms, D’Angelus questioned its relevance in modern Malaysia. He pointed out disparities between regions, notably the perceived inferior status of employees in Sabah and Sarawak compared to their West Malaysian counterparts, attributing it to systemic flaws perpetuated by successive administrations.

He criticised the government’s approach to workplace reforms, suggesting they prioritise the interests of large organisations over those of employees. “Unless there is a fundamental shift philosophically and policy-wise in this regard, we cannot expect change that would benefit the common people of Malaysia,” he said, reported New Straits Times.