What does WFH really mean in Malaysia?

The Malaysian Employers Federation has called for more clarity on the government’s work-from-home (WFH) directive.
By: | October 26, 2020

As the conditional movement control order (CMCO) continues to be enforced across Malaysia, the government has directed that only 10% of senior staff from the finance, administration, legal and IT departments in a company are allowed to work in their offices from 10am to 2pm for a maximum of three days a week.

According to Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), this ruling is “difficult to understand”, particularly for companies with small workforces.

He explained, “If your company is big, 10% makes sense. But if your company is smaller, assuming that you have five people in managerial or supervisory positions, then one person would already be considered 20% of that team.”

Instead, Shamsuddin suggested the stipulation of the maximum number of people allowed in the office, and which is determined by the size of the business.  He also believes that it does not make economic sense to have workers coming into the office three hours a week for only four hours each day, especially if the commute is long.

READ: Malaysia employees who work from home must be paid in full

In laying out the new WFH directive, Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan also said that employers in the country must pay the full salary of their employees who work remotely, and not force workers to use their annual leave or unpaid leave.

Challenging this view, the MEF’s Shamsuddin claimed that it will be “unreasonable” to expect employers to give full salaries and allowances to WFH employees.

He explained that this was because productivity is being impacted by when employees work from home, and many companies are still facing cash flow problems. While agreeing that annual leave or unpaid leave should not be forced on employees, Shamsuddin added that not all work can be done at home.

This, he concluded, mandates that some workers need to be in the office, albeit with proper paperwork and the following of SOPs.