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Malaysian HR Minister: Employees granted flexi-work rights since Sep 2022

Malaysian HR Minister Steven Sim confirms employees’ right to request Flexible Work Arrangements since Sep 2022. Requests must be in writing under the M’sia’s employment law, with employers mandated to respond within 60 days, giving reasons for rejection if any.



MALAYSIA: In Malaysia, employees have been granted the right to request flexible work arrangements (FWAs) since September 2022, as highlighted by Human Resources Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong.

Mr Sim referenced this in light of the new tripartite guidelines introduced for Singapore employees recently, which enable them to seek four-day work weeks, increased work-from-home (WFH) opportunities, and staggered work timings.

On 17 April, the minister shared a screenshot on X (formerly Twitter), emphasizing PART XIIC of the Employment Act 1955, encompassing Section 60P and Section 60Q, which detail the provisions and procedures for FWAs.

Mr Sim clarified that employees are required to submit their requests in writing.

According to the minister, employers must respond within 60 days, and in case of rejection, they must provide reasons for their decision.

He added that his ministry aims to promote employee well-being, skills development, and overall economic competitiveness through these provisions within the Employment Act.

The act stipulates that under Section 60Q(1), employees must formally apply for flexible working arrangements under Section 60P in writing, following the format and method specified by the Director-General of Labour.

While employees have the right to request FWAs under Section 60P, it’s not an absolute entitlement.

The final decision rests on the terms outlined in the employee’s contract of employment.

The law does not mandate companies to offer FWAs as a fundamental entitlement, but it permits employees to request them if their contracts do not explicitly prohibit such arrangements and if they have a legitimate need for flexible working hours.

Singapore employers may consider overseas hiring as flexible work arrangements become normative, CNA reports

On Monday (15 April), Singapore launched the new Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) Requests. Effective December of this year, all employers are required to establish a formal process for employees to request flexible work arrangements.

According to the guidelines, employers are expected to respond to FWA requests within two months of receiving them.

While employers maintain the right to decline such requests, their decisions must be justified by reasonable business grounds, such as cost or productivity concerns. They should include the reason for rejection in the written decision.

Furthermore, the guidelines outline what constitutes unreasonable grounds for rejecting requests.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of Singapore stated that in instances where employers are non-compliant or deliberately refuse to adhere to the guidelines, the ministry may issue warnings and mandate attendance at corrective workshops.

According to a report by Channel News Asia (CNA), some employers are apprehensive about the potential impact of FWAs on local hiring, with concerns prompting consideration of overseas labour markets where costs are lower.

For instance, worries persist about the operational complexities and reduced employee responsiveness associated with incorporating flexi-time.

Additionally, some employers view flexible work arrangements as an opportunity to bolster their remote workforce, diminishing the emphasis on local hiring.

A 2022 study by the Singapore Business Review found that the average worker in Singapore logs 45-hour weeks, contributing to significant unhappiness and burnout among employees.

Another study by global professional services firm Aon and Telus Health in 2022 reported that 52% of workers in Singapore felt more stress than in previous years, with 64% concerned about the impact of mental health issues on their careers.

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