Amendments to Industrial Relations Act to come into force on Jan 1, says Saravanan

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The Industrial Relations Act 1967 (Act 177), which was amended in December last year, will come into force on Jan 1,2021 to improve the protection of workers’ rights in the country, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan (pic).

The Human Resources Minister said the key areas of amendments included the repeal of the minister's power to refer representations on dismissal cases to the Industrial Court which will instead be given to the Director-General for Industrial Relations as well as the repeal of discretionary power to refer cases to the Industrial Court without further filtering.

Other amendments were the employer or employee may be represented by any person of their choice, except lawyers, during the conciliation process at the Industrial Relations Department and the application of the provision of representation on reinstatement (Section 20) may be extended to employees of statutory bodies by order of the Human Resources Minister, after consultations with the statutory body.

"Beginning Jan 1,2021, in addition to procedures related to promotions, trade unions can also negotiate about general issues related to the exchange, recruitment, termination of services due to labour surplus, dismissal and reinstatement as well as distribution of tasks.

"The punishment of imprisonment for illegal picketing and strikes have been abolished in line with international labour standards, ” he said Monday (Dec 28).

Saravanan said through this amendment, the Industrial Court may continue to conduct proceedings notwithstanding the death of the employee who made the representation and order the payment of back wages or compensation in lieu of reinstatement or both to the next-of-kin of the deceased employee.

Besides that, the Industrial Court may lower the award without being bound by the restrictions set out in the Second Schedule if the dismissal is due to a violation of the right to freedom of union; the Industrial Court shall charge interest of up to eight per cent per annum or at a lower rate.

"Parties who are dissatisfied with the Industrial Court award can submit an appeal directly to the High Court within 14 days after the award is received, ” he said.

Further information about the amended act will be uploaded on the websites of the Human Resources Ministry and the Industrial Relations Department in the near future. - Bernama

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