Government responds by citing public sector approach
Following warnings from employers, the Malaysian government has clarified that it has no plans to require private businesses to extend allowances to their interns.
Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said last week that the government is only encouraging private employers to follow the footsteps of the public sector in providing interns allowances.
"The government, however, strongly urges private businesses to follow the government's lead and introduce stipend payments to students undertaking industrial training," Yeoh said as quoted by The Star.
The clarification came following reports that the government is planning to introduce to Cabinet a proposal that will require employers to pay their interns allowances.
The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) responded to the proposal with a warning that it will discourage employers from taking in interns.
"The government should not make it mandatory for employers to pay certain determined rate to the interns. MEF is of the view that employers should pay internship allowance at their discretion," MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said in a statement.
According to the MEF, the government should instead extend incentives to employers who are taking in interns.
"The government may then make it mandatory that all the undergraduates undergo internship attachment," Syed Hussain said.
Internships in Malaysia
Unlike in the public sector, it is up to private employers if they want to extend allowances to students participating in industrial training.
Interns get allowances of up to RM1,200 in bigger cities, according to the MEF, while some receive less than RM1,000 per month depending on the ability of the employers to grant allowances.
Bigger firms, on the other hand, can pay their interns higher than RM1,200 per month, added the MEF.
The figures came as the federation's president warned against making claims that employers aren't extending some allowance to their interns.
"Generalized statements that the industries do not give allowance to interns is not fair to employers. In fact, employers have to carry out so much planning to ensure knowledge and skills are transferred to interns. Having internal leaders, supervisors, structured programs, exams, assignments, and reviews for interns all take up much management time," Syed Hussain said.
The MEF president encouraged employers hiring interns to pay them "some allowance."
"Employers taking in interns need to take into consideration rising costs of living faced by the interns," Syed Hussain said.