Human Resources Minister M Saravanan announced that the Employment (Amendment) Act 2022 will take effect on September 1.
Saravanan said the government is working to ensure that modifications to the Act's First Schedule are carefully drafted so as not to confuse or mislead employees about who will be covered by the legislation.
The extension of maternity leave from 60 to 98 days, restrictions on terminating pregnant employees, and the introduction of paternity leave for married male workers are among the critical reforms passed in the March Parliament meeting.
One crucial amendment can potentially rehabilitate Malaysia's reputation as one of the countries with the longest weekly work hours in the world.
When the amendments take effect, the maximum weekly hours of work demanded of Malaysian employees would be reduced from 48 to 45.
The Employment (Amendment) Act 2022, also known as Act 265, obtained royal assent on April 26 and was issued in the Federal Government Gazette on May 10 this year, following the passing of the amendments in both Houses of Parliament.
In addition, on September 1, the minister will issue an order amending the First Schedule's changes.
Currently, the First Schedule divides workers into three categories:
Those earning less than RM2,000 per month,
Those earning no fixed salaries, such as those engaged in physical labour and those who oversee them,
Workers who operate motor vehicles and domestic workers.
However, Saravanan said that the first schedule's restrictions on domestic workers would stay in place, with no indication that they would be changed anytime soon.
The restriction on domestic workers has harmed Malaysian women more than migrants working in the sector, whose terms are reflected in their contracts.
Under Act 265, domestic workers are denied basic rights that all other workers have, such as maternity leave, a day of rest each week, working hours, and even holidays.
Key amendments of the Employment Act
The following is a summary of some of the major amendments to the Act:
1. Maternity leave extension
The amended Act increases the length of maternity leave from 60 to 98 days.
2. Restrictions on dismissing pregnant employees
The amended Act prohibits companies from firing a worker who is pregnant or who has a pregnancy-related sickness unless the worker:
3. The implementation of paternity leave
Employees who are married men are entitled to seven days of paid paternity leave.
4. Sexual harassment notice
Employers are obligated to prominently display a notice to raise awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sabah and Sarawak workers will have to wait longer
Malaysian workers who celebrated Parliament's passage of the reforms to labour legislation in March this year will need to wait for a little over two months for the changes to take effect.
Workers in Sabah and Sarawak, governed by the Sabah and Sarawak Labour Ordinances, will have to wait much longer.
The revisions to Act 265 would have to be submitted and passed in Parliament before they could be reflected in these two state labour ordinances. However, it was not done in March.
Sarawak's MTUC secretary, Andrew Lo, said the state was trailing behind in labour law reforms and urged the federal and state governments to negotiate and expedite amendments to the Sarawak Labour Ordinance.
According to Lo, the reforms to Sarawak's labour code are urgently needed. He stated that the amendment bill should be tabled during the next Parliament session, which will begin on July 18.
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