The enforcement of amendments to the Employment Act 1955 providing for shorter working hours has been postponed to Jan 1 next year from its earlier scheduled date of Sept 1, says Human Resources Minister M Saravanan.
He said this was decided by the Cabinet today after industries and employers unanimously asked for the postponement due to several factors.
Apart from reducing working hours from 48 to 45 per week, the amended law would also increase maternity leave from 60 days to 98 and paternity leave from three days to seven.
Saravanan said engagement sessions with stakeholders found that industry players, especially employers, needed more time before the amendments came into force because they were still dealing with a shortage of foreign workers and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
"After listening to everyone, we (the government) have come to the conclusion that we should give another three months for the recovery of the economy. Otherwise, I am just worried that if the industries suffer, a lot of us will lose their jobs.
"Of course, the ministry is concerned about the interests of the employees. This (delay) is to safeguard their interests," he told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
Saravanan said the restrictions imposed on the entry of foreign workers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in a shortage of manpower in industries.
He said although Malaysia had now allowed foreign workers to enter again, the process of fulfilling the manpower needs of industries would take time.
"This is the final postponement. By hook or by crook, these amendments will be enforced on Jan 1," he added.
The amendments were approved by Parliament in March this year, and Saravanan had earlier said that the amended law would be enforced on Sept 1.