FWA not practical for all

PETALING JAYA: Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA) can only be implemented in certain industries, based on the employer’s discretion, to avoid any work disruptions, say business groups

This is especially so as most businesses were still recovering from the impact of Covid-19 movement restrictions, they said.

SME Association of Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing (pic) said the country was facing a serious shortage of workers, especially involving foreign workers, and the implementation of work flexibility would further affect production capabilities.

“We are now facing a shortage of about one to two million foreign workers and even with local workers, we cannot produce as much to meet demand,” he said, adding that this would have a ripple effect on the supply chain and prices of goods.

Ding said that for most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) relying on production output, FWA was not a practical move.

“Flexi-work arrangements may only be suitable for certain industries such as IT and marketing.

“Even then, employees should be meeting in the office a few times a week to resolve issues affecting work,” he said.

Ding said the government should meet up with industry players to discuss the issue before its implementation.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) council member Gan Boon Khim said the FWA policy should be on a need basis and not impact relationships at the workplace.

“While we agree that FWA policy may attract more people such as homemakers and part-timers to join the workforce during this time of labour shortage, this policy may not be suitable for all types of industries.

“An employee must provide reasons when applying for flexible working hours, and the company can then assess the application and its decision should be final,” said Gan, who is also ACCCIM’s human resources committee chairman.

He said it would be undesirable if the policy were to lead to misunderstanding and affect the employer-employee relationship.

“With the recent increase in workers’ minimum wages, reduction of working hours from 48 to 45 hours, and the number of public holidays in the country, we need to ensure that the FWA will not add to the burden of the company and employers,” he said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) deputy president Effendy Abdul Ghani said the FWA could not be a blanket instruction as some employers might need all their employees on the field while others might not.

He, too, felt that the FWA policy should be further discussed between the government, employers and employees to allow a smoother implementation.

“All parties need to be clear on the terms to avoid certain limitations such as the quality of work being affected or the employee’s salary or allowances being deducted due to the new arrangement,” he said.

Malaysia Budget Hotel Association deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said it would not be easy to change and adapt new work systems.

“When employers are burdened, it will be hard for businesses to sustain during their recovery process.

“All these regulations are coming into place too fast and too soon for the employers and businesses to adapt,” he said.

He said FWA was not feasible for the hotel and service industry where workers would need to be physically present at the premises.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association president Sharan Valiram said the FWA was not practical for workers involved in warehouse or logistical operations.

“With most workers involved in frontline operations, it is impossible for them to work from home. It will create more unrest among employees and a mass exodus from the retail industry is possible,” he said.

Last week, Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Awang Hashim said employees could apply for FWA under the amendment to the Employment Act 1955, which will come into force on Sept 1.

He said the application must be made in writing and could cover changes in working hours, working days and also the place of work.

The employer must respond to the application in writing within 60 days.

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