Employers say their profit margin is too low to hire full-time guards

Underappreciated: A security guard manning the entrance to a gated residential area in Ipoh.Photo: SAIFUL BAHRI

THE majority of security guards hired to look after housing areas are not afforded full-time status because of financial constraints faced by their employers. Security firm licensee Mohd Sudirman (not his real name) said their profit margin was not even 15%.

“Unless they are big companies, most security firms cannot afford to hire full-time staff,” he said, adding that the primary reason was the company is engaged on a contractual basis.

“For example, the residents’ committee of a condominium hires us to provide guards at their premises for two years.

“Under the contract, either party has the right to terminate the contract upon written notice.

“Should we lose our contract and our guards are permanent staff, we will have to continue paying their salaries,” he revealed.

No annual leave: The StarMetro article on guards being exploited on Monday, June 8.

Mohd Sudirman said another reason security firms recruited on a temporary basis was to safeguard themselves against problematic employees.

“It is very difficult to terminate full-time employees,” he said.

Bigger security firms, he said, were more stringent in their vetting process as they could afford proper health and background checks.

“Inevitably, a lax vetting system results in the hiring of bad hats such as drug addicts and people with past criminal offences,” he added.

Albert, a manager at another security firm in Ipoh, said some security firms not only skipped conducting health and background checks on potential employees to save cost but they also failed to send their guards for compulsory training by the Home Ministry and Security Services Association of Malaysia (SSAM).

“This is mostly practised by sub-contractors who operate at housing areas.

“It is an open secret that many security franchisees at housing areas are run by gangsters.

“I believe it is these people who are exploiting their workers,” said Albert.

The Star had reported that many security guards were not getting the pay they rightfully deserve despite the implementation of the RM900 minimum wage.

Worse still, some do not have Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits or medical benefits while having to work 12 hours a day, 365 days without any days off or annual leave. And without any employment letter or salary slips issued to them, these guards neither exist on paper nor are they considered gainfully employed.

Albert said many stayed on despite the unfair treatment, knowing they would not be able to find employment elsewhere because of their advanced age, health condition or past criminal records.

“Those with critical illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension are not eligible for the job, likewise, those aged above 60.

“People who are medically boarded out and receiving more than one third of their last drawn salary from Socso are also not qualified,” he said.

Albert, whose company supplies guards to factories and government offices, said newly hired guards were placed on a three-month probation and paid a monthly salary of RM630 as per the country’s labour laws.

He said upon completion of the three months, the probation period is extended by another three months if performance is less than satisfactory.

“If the person’s performance is up to the mark, then he or she will be confirmed and paid the RM900 basic salary plus overtime pay equivalent to about RM6 per hour and give them one day off a week.

“They are also eligible for EPF and Socso benefits, group insurance benefits, 14 days paid medical leave and 30 days paid hospitalisation as well as medical treatment at government hospitals or clinics.

“We encourage them to seek treatment at government facilities as we can check the authenticity of their medical certificates,” said Albert, adding that those who had completed a year of service would be entitled to eight days of annual leave. He said his company did everything by the book.

“Unlike what is practised by other security firms, our guards are hired as full-time staff even though we are hiring them for just two years according to our contract tenure,” he added.

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