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Flexi Work Laws In Malaysia – Why Are Some Still Averse To New Work Arrangements?

Flexi Work Laws In Malaysia – Why Are Some Still Averse To New Work Arrangements?

There have been calls for the government to revisit labour laws, especially to advocate for better work arrangements for employees to suit evolving societal needs.

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Even before the pandemic, most of us can agree that the way we have been working for years needs to change for the better and to adapt to the times.

As we are all aware, there have been suggestions to cut the work week shorter into 3 or 4 work days or give employees the flexibility to work from home. These suggestions are also a bid to help balance our work and life since we’re in this “always on call” culture no thanks to social media platforms and emails.

While some companies have adopted a hybrid work arrangement, many are still apprehensive about the new change.

Human Resources Minister Steven Sim said employees could request flexible work setups from their employers. Since it’s highly based on the employer’s discretion, it isn’t a wholly sustainable plan.

According to HRM Asia, the Social Protection Contributors Advisory Association Malaysia (SPCAAM) has called upon the government to revisit labour laws, especially to advocate amendments that would foster improved workplace flexibility across the nation.

International Labour Advisor of the SPCAAM, Callistus Antony D’angelus, said the labour laws need to be revised to empower employees in Malaysia with greater autonomy in determining their work arrangements.

Callistus believes policymakers and ministers must move beyond the mere recitation of legal provisions. He believes they should advocate for a proactive reassessment of existing frameworks to align with evolving societal needs.

The provisions in law for accommodations due to circumstances such as elderly care, disability and childcare have not kept up with the progress made globally over the past few decades. There has been a lot more awareness of mental health and its impact at the workplace, as an example, and local laws need to progress with time.

International Labour Advisor of the SPCAAM, Callistus Antony D’angelus

Callistus added that the Employment Act is another “relic” from the colonial-era employment years and questioned its relevance in modern Malaysia.

Remote working and flexi work may be the answer for evolving societal needs. Image for illustration purposes. Image: TRP File

Why are many people still averse to flexible work arrangements?

In simplest terms, humans are usually not receptive to changes because it’s unfamiliar and bringing about a change does involve some work and time invested into it.

When people are asked about their reluctance for a new work arrangement, the reasons often stem from fear such as worrying that people will skive from work or losing control of their hold on employees.

TRP recently asked followers whether they believe work flexibility is a good thing in Malaysia.

Some agreed that flexibility will offer many people, especially families, freedom to manage their career and family aspirations.

There also seems to be a minor confusion regarding the distinction between remote working and flexible work arrangements.

Remote working like working from home means 100% telecommuting and lets employees choose where they work.

Meanwhile, for flexi work, employees are not required to work traditional office hours and can move their hours to suit their lifestyle which can include working from home. People working in different time zones or shift work usually find the flexi work arrangement suitable for them.

Not all jobs are indeed suited for work-from-home arrangements, but it doesn’t mean the discourse for better work arrangements should be prevented.

The responses also showed that remote work and flexible work arrangements are highly dependent on an individual’s self-discipline. While some can work independently and responsibly on their own, others may need to be watched like a hawk at the office.

Long story short, there are signs that change is possible but many workplaces are not keen or invested in changing for the better because it does require work and time to adapt to something new. It’s unfair to punish or penalise everyone due to the faults of a few.

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