SPCAAM urges govt to amend labour laws for better workplace flexibility

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Social Protection Contributors Advisory Association Malaysia’s (SPCAAM) International Labour Advisor Callistus Antony D’Angelus said that the Employment Act 1955 is a legislation of its time and did not take flexible work arrangements into consideration when it was drafted.

He said that unless the Act is amended, it is still the prerogative of the employer in Malaysia, almost entirely, to approve or conversely disapprove such applications.

“Flexible work arrangements, including working from home, is clearly not something which can be very easily legislated as the nature of some businesses would simply not allow for it. “Having said that, the provisions in law for accommodations due to circumstances such as elderly care, disability and childcare have not kept up with the progress made globally over the past few decades.

“There has been a lot more awareness of mental health and its impact at the workplace, as an example, and local laws need to progress with times,” he said in a statement.

Callistus was responding to an announcement by Human Resources Minister Steven Sim that workers in Malaysia can apply to their employers for flexible working arrangements based on time, days, and location of work, according to Sections 60P and 60Q of the Employment Act 1955.

Yesterday, Sim via an X post said such requests should be submitted to employers for feedback within 60 days, and if rejected, employers must provide valid reasons.

Sim also attached a photo of the Employment Act 1955, highlighting Part XIIC concerning flexible working arrangement.

Sim said this in response to a post by a portal regarding workers in Singapore now being able to apply to work four days a week, more working days from home, and phased working hours starting from December 1 this year.

Callistus pointed out that the current Employment Act is a colonial legacy where the practice of a master-and-servant relationship within the employment context is still present.

“The abuse of foreign workers, depression of wage levels and suppression of trade union activities are a symptom of an overall failed architecture,” he added.

He said that ministers and policymakers should not merely repeat provisions of the law but instead constantly challenge the adequacy of the system to progress with times.

“Why is it that despite Malaysia being formed in 1963, the workers of Sabah and Sarawak are in an inferior position in many regards as compared to their counterparts in West Malaysia,” he asked.

He also pointed out that the government continues to pander to the interests of big business despite the promise of reform.

“Unless there is a fundamental shift philosophically and policy-wise in this regard, we cannot expect change that would benefit the common people of Malaysia,” he said.