Employers request assistance in implementing flexi-work

The call comes ahead of the implementation of FWAs in September

Employers request assistance in implementing flexi-work

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) is calling on the government to assist businesses as they transition to flexible work arrangements (FWAs).

It comes as Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Awang Hashim announced that employees may start applying for FWAs to their employers starting September 1, which is when the amendment to the Employment Act 1955 takes effect.

Application for FWAs must be made in writing, according to the official, and include the changes in the working hours, working days, and where they plan to work.

Ahead of these changes, MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman pointed out several challenges in implementing FWAs, including:

  • Lack of commitment from the top management
  • Management struggle to adapt to new working models that incorporate FWAs
  • Lack of engagement among employees that may lead to lower productivity and higher attrition rate
  • Confidential data/information may be compromised
  • Difficulty in ensuring that employees' remote workspaces comply with Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Difficulties in cultivating trust between managers and employees
  • Ensure that FWAs are for all employees to avoid instances where other employees would deem the practice as unfair
  • 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.

Read more: Malaysia Airlines helps employees to upskill in new roles

According to the MEF president, to address these challenges for organisations, the government should consider the following recommendations:

  • Provide clear guidelines on the rights and obligations of organisations, such as decision-making on employees request for FWAs, rejecting employees’ applications, consequences for employers who fail to comply to the FWAs requests, and the appeal process if applicable.
  • Offer flexibility and relaxing some regulations as appropriate that may affect an organisation's ability to implement certain types of FWAs
  • Conduct awareness programmes on FWAs to educate employers and how the arrangements can meet their business needs and a strategy to attract and retain talent
  • Provide concise information and awareness on compliance and governance related to FWAs, including safety and health, good practices, work-related accidents that happen when on FWAs
  • Review existing regulations in Employment Act 1955 to accommodate provisions on working hours, holidays, rest periods, wages, and overtime to complement FWAs models.
  • FWA approvals in organisations are discretion of Head of Departments, the need to equip HR with knowledge to develop FWAs policy that defines the FWAs eligibility, expectations, and responsibility
  • Introduce tax measures beyond software but to include purchase of software/hardware to enable employees to go on FWAs

Datuk Dr Syed Hussain stressed that it should be acknowledged that businesses vary when it comes to structure and operations - which should be noted first before implementing changes to how existing systems work.

"It should be recognised that not all business change and not all processes can change. FWAs can only be done only after understanding these issues," said the MEF president.

"In some cases, certain areas of business can have flexibility, and some cannot. The final decision really depends on the industry and conditions of the particular business."

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