Malaysia’s Employment Act has recently been amended to reduce working hours from 48 hours to 45 hours as of 1 September 2022. It protects workers’ welfare, as mandated by the ILO Convention.
The announcement has been received differently by various groups and unions. Some say this regulation will allow employees to rest and improve their health, which will lead to a higher quality of work. Others say it will cause companies operating 24/7 to be unable to recover from the pandemic.
It might also be worth mentioning that these amendments would also allow employees to work flexible hours, which would enable them to choose the location, time, and days of their work, as well as allow them to work from home during emergencies, such as the Covid-19 outbreak.
The employee will need to request a flexible working arrangement from their employer; either in terms of their working hours, working days, or changing their location, in writing. Afterward, the employer will have 60 days to respond, stating whether or not the application has been approved.
About 62 percent of Malaysian full-time workers prefer flexibility over a four-day working week, according to an online survey by Qualtrics. In fact, about 60 percent of the Southeast Asian region agrees with this result. Employees who work flexible hours report less stress and burnout, helping them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Some companies, however, are not willing to allow this, even if the nature of their operations does not require their employees to be in the office five or six days a week. Since the Movement Control Order has been relaxed, traffic jams have increased massively during peak hours following the return of employees to work.
Due to the newness of flexible working in Malaysian companies, serious problems can arise without the appropriate policies in place. Employers may feel uneasy about trusting their employees who work remotely, and it can also be challenging to track their productivity. Additionally, remote work can cause employees to feel overworked since work and life are blurred together.
For Malaysian companies, these amendments might be a good start toward creating a culture that encourages flexible work arrangements. It will also enable them to embrace the mindset change required to make flexible working arrangements possible and beneficial.