Employers may face challenges, say experts

PETALING JAYA: The new year will be a challenging one for the local workforce but the country’s labour laws are sufficient to safeguard both employees and employers, according to experts.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said 2018 will be a trying time for many bosses with escalating costs.

“With all the added costs of doing business, employers will be very hard-pressed,” he said, adding that the global market was also not looking promising.

He said times could be tougher for fresh graduates as bosses would want to keep things lean.

“The recruitment of workers may not be that good, as employers will not be in expansion mode and will try to save as much as possible,” he added.

On a brighter note, Shamsuddin said the forecast of 100,000 job openings in the middle of 2018 augured well with many people retiring upon reaching the age of 60.

He advised fresh graduates to learn new skills and to be “flexible”.

Labour law expert Datuk Thavalingam Thavarajah (pic) said that both employees and employers were well-protected by labour laws.

“We have sufficient laws to ensure the rights of both employee and employer are protected, from issues such as medical benefits to security of tenure,” he said in an interview.

Thavalingam said labour laws were “tight” to limit abuse and ensure compliance.

“For example, if bosses don’t pay for maternity leave, they will be fined.

“So going into 2018, you know that you have this legislation in place and the workforce can be assured of a fair deal,” he said.

In terms of downsizing and retrenchment, he said employers needed to justify the move first.

He said the management would usually implement cost-cutting measures before starting any retrenchment process.

MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said the move towards digitalisation should not be used as a justification for employers to retrench workers.

He urged bosses to make an effort to prepare their workers for the challenges ahead.

“Real effort must be taken by employers to prepare and redeploy their workforce for Industry 4.0,” he said, adding that ill-preparation in ushering digitalisation could widen income and social inequalities.

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