‘Let workers go out to vote’


Soh: FMM would be advising its members to provide time off to vote in accordance with the law.

PETALING JAYA: Business groups are urging employers who require workers to be on duty on Nov 19 to give them time off to exercise their right to vote.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said it would be advising members to provide time off to their employees to vote in accordance with the law.

“Given that Section 25(1) of the Election Offences Act states that every employer should allow every employee ‘a reasonable period for voting’ and no employer shall make any deduction from the employee’s salary or impose any penalty for such an absence, we will be advising our members based on this.

“In this regard, if polling day is declared a public holiday under Section 8 of the Holidays Act, employers are obliged to observe the public holiday in accordance with Section 60D(1)(b) of the Employment Act .

“The declared holiday is (also) in addition to the minimum 11 public holidays under the Employment Act. And if polling day is declared as such, the date cannot be substituted with another day,” he said when contacted.

If polling day is on a working day for those who work normal hours or 12-hour shifts, he said employers would be advised to allow their employees sufficient time off to vote.

“This will take into account the distance to the polling centre and traffic jams, among others.

“For those working on the first shift of the day, employers should also allow an earlier release from work to allow sufficient time to vote, especially if the polling station is far from their workplace.

“For those working during the second, third or night shifts, employers are not required to grant time off for voting as employees should be able to vote before or after work,” said Soh who is also the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president.

Soh noted that employees who were registered in outstation constituencies could also apply for annual leave, where employers can approve annual leave in advance to those who have either exhausted their leave or are not entitled to it.

“Given that the Election Commission has already announced the polling date, all parties would have enough time to schedule their leave and work arrangements without it affecting their right to vote,” he said.

Malaysians will go to the polls on Nov 19.

SME Association of Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing said that all companies that are part of the association would be told to give their employees leave to vote.

“We will advise our companies to allocate at least half-day leave to workers so they (employees) can carry out their democratic right to vote.

“Whether they have the first or second half of the day off, however, will be at the discretion of these companies,” he said.

Ding added that employees who had to vote in other states could also apply for leave in order to do so.

On Oct 16, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said employees must be given time off or leave if polling day falls on a working day.

He said it is the right of every Malaysian citizen aged 18 and above to vote.

“Employers must comply with the government’s directive. They must allow employees to vote – be it as occasional public holiday (cuti peristiwa), replacement leave or time off,” he said.

He added that action would be taken against any employer who does not comply with this directive.

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