The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) today urged the government to postpone a number of amendments to the Employment Act 1955 seen as beneficial to employees but which the bosses group said would further burden employers already struggling to adjust to the current economic challenges.
In a statement, MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said employers should be given time to regain their footing as businesses had been severely affected by the movement restrictions imposed over the past two years to contain the spread of Covid-19.
"MEF supports some of the changes, but it is about the timing issue," he said.
"Now is not the right time to introduce changes that add to the cost of doing business."
Syed Hussain was referring to the amendments scheduled to take effect on Sept 1, involving an increase in cost of overtime per year, a reduction of working hours from 48 a week to 45, an increase in maternity leave, and paternity leave of seven continuous days per birth.
Taken together, he said, these amendments would mean additional costs of RM110.99 billion each year.
Effective May 1, he added, employers had had to shoulder extra wage costs of some RM14 billion a year due to the increase in minimum wage from RM1,100/RM1,200 per month to RM1,500.
"Some employers are still struggling to fully implement the new minimum wage," he said.
"Some employers are reportedly unable to comply. Employers generally strive to comply with statutory requirements, but there are situations where they are resigned to the fact that they do not have the financial capacity to do so."
Syed Hussain said bosses would also have to address other matters including the stipulation for flexible work arrangements for which there were still no guidelines, the entitlement to 60 days of hospital leave per year in addition to non-hospitalisation sick leave, and new procedures for the application for foreign workers.
"There are too many changes taking place that will affect business during these challenging periods," he said.
"MEF appeals to the government to give businesses more time to transition to the new requirements. There is a need to slow down a bit, to allow businesses some space to breathe."