Employment Act amendments to include home-based workers

MALAYSIA: The latest proposed amendments to the Employment Act will include the responsibility of the employers in ensuring the safety and welfare of staff members working at home, among others.

According to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan: "WFH (work-from-home) is now the norm in the global workforce. The ministry has included amendments to the Employment Act 1955 on flexible work that would be tabled for the second reading in the meeting to be held between December 14 and 16."

Saravanan also noted that the government would not tolerate employers that neglect the safety of the workplace, which he considers as modern-day slavery.

"We will take stern action (against errant employers) as it has affected our image at the international level. Malaysia has been downgraded to Tier 3 from Tier 2,” the minister emphasized.

He was referring to the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Tier 2 refers to countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. Tier 3 classification refers to countries that neither satisfy the minimum standards nor demonstrate a significant effort to come into compliance. Countries in this tier are subject to potential non-humanitarian and non-trade sanctions.

Saravanan mentioned that the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) brought 138 cases to court for prosecution, and a total of RM1.56 million (USD376,000) fines were issued between January and August 2021.

Recent amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act 1994 aimed to extend the coverage of the law to all workplaces; and increase penalties for delinquent employers, from RM50,000 (USD12,000) to RM500,000 (USD120,000), for failing to implement safety and health policies.

The minister has also inserted a new section on paternity leave in amending the Employment Act. The insertion states that:

(1) “A married male employee shall be entitled to a paid paternity leave at his ordinary rate of pay for a period of three consecutive days in respect of each confinement.

(2) The paternity leave under subsection (1) shall be restricted to five confinements irrespective of the number of spouses.”

The Employment Act amendments will seek to protect employees against discrimination and forced labour. It will also include provisions for maternity benefits.

The proposed amendments aim to comply with standards and practices of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Malaysia-United States Labour Consistency Plan, and the International Labour Organisation.


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