Flexible working hours not mandated in Malaysia

Employers reassured ahead of changes to employment standards taking effect Jan. 1

Flexible working hours not mandated in Malaysia

Ahead of plans to amend Malaysia’s Employment Act 1995, the government is assuring employers they won’t be mandated to implement flexible working hours.

Instead, the changes will grant incentives to those implementing the scheme, according to Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar.

"With the flexible working hours amendment to the Employment Act 1955, it just becomes a legal form of incentive. However, there is no compulsion. It is meant to be an improvement to the system and the way we work in this country," Sivakumar said in Free Malaysia Today.

"Not everyone can follow the same working hours. For example, there are some who cannot work from 8 am till 5 pm due to matters such as family obligations, which may see them being late to work and having to work late hours too."

However, Sivakumar is still encouraging employers to allow employees to work their own hours as long as they satisfy the required number of hours at work.

"We want them to work for a fixed period of time per day. So, what is the issue if they can work for the required number of hours even if they do not follow the fixed schedule?" he said as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.

Reassurance to employers

The minister's remarks give reassurance to employers who are unable to implement such arrangements due to the nature of their work, a challenge previously raised by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

"Most organisations in the hospitality sector and manufacturing sectors are unable to implement fully remote working and FWAs for their employees due to their nature of business,” it said.

This is despite flexibility in the workplace schedule being a popular request among Malaysians, with an Ipsos report revealing that 74% of them want this perk.

Implementation for ‘near future'

The amendments to the Employment Act 1995 were supposed to take effect in September, before the government moved it January 1, 2023, following requests from employers who said they needed more time.

Sivakumar recently told reporters that he hopes to implement the amendments regarding flexible working arrangements "in the near future," reported Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency.

"I am also looking at all existing policies and whatever I will implement will be made after I get inputs. I probably need about a week more to gather the information needed," he said as quoted by the news outlet.

Other amendments in the Employment Act include pregnancy and maternity protection, paternity leave, increased fine for sexual harassment-related offences, among others.

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