Efforts to enhance social protection are crucial to protect all workers, says Dr Mohammed Azman.

LABOUR Day recently offered us a moment to commemorate the remarkable grit and resilience of every worker.

Their tireless efforts, day in and day out, not only to sustain their loved ones but also drive our nation’s prosperity forward.

However, a day off during Labour Day could not adequately recognise the magnitude of our workers’ immense contributions and hard work.

What truly strikes a chord is our steadfast commitment to fortifying our efforts in advancing the welfare and success of our 17.1 million workers within the labour force nationwide.

Aligned with the theme “Pekerja KESUMA Bangsa”, Social Security Organisation (PERKESO) embraces the support and commitment of the Human Resources Ministry (Kesuma) in driving the pillars of its 3K agenda – Kemahiran (skills), Kebajikan (welfare) and Keberhasilan (success of workers) – all in the pursuit of shaping a Malaysia that is both developed and sustainable.

At the heart of this pragmatic agenda lies the essence of strengthening workers’ social protection, ensuring it encompasses every single member of our workforce, especially the most vulnerable individuals.

Investing in social protection not only amplifies workers’ employment capacity, but also ensures a more resilient and equitable workforce for generations to come.

In response to the recent call by the Kesuma Minister and voices of our valued stakeholders, including the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), PERKESO is actively exploring avenues to enhance a comprehensive 24/7 safety net for workers.

This safety net will be robust, providing essential support to workers during times of income shortfalls resulting from non-occupational accidents happening outside of their working hours, even if they are unrelated to their jobs.

To put this into perspective, three out of every hundred Malaysians bid their final goodbyes to their loved ones due to fatal transport accidents, whether work-related or not.

However, from 2011 until March 2024, PERKESO has regrettably been compelled to reject more than 54,062 applications due to cases of non-occupational accidents, which translates to an estimated average rejection rate of one in every 20 applications per year. PERKESO identifies this as a significant coverage gap precipitated by legislative restrictions.

Not only that, during the pandemic recovery phase in 2023, PERKESO observed a significant rise in accident-related applications, which were five times higher than the number of Covid-19 related applications in the same year.

While the immediate threat of Covid-19 has diminished, the country has diverted its attention to this long existing public health crisis.

How protected are we in this growing threat?

According to the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, in 2022, almost 46% of Malaysians lack private health insurance, primarily due to the high costs of premiums, which often makes such insurance accessible only to those with higher incomes.

Addressing the issue of affordability, a social insurance scheme proposed by PERKESO distributes the financial burden across the entire workforce. The collective contribution lowers its premium cost and ensures that protection becomes more accessible to everyone, not just those who can comfortably afford it. The proposed scheme stands to rectify this disparity, ensuring that no worker is left unprotected in times of need.

This visionary initiative will not only bridge the gap but also elevate our social protection framework to new heights.

Building upon the solid foundation of our existing employment injury scheme, it will deliver equivalent benefits including essential medical coverage, temporary and permanent disability income replacement benefits, constant-attendance allowance, rehabilitation services, as well as survivor’s and funeral benefits.

But this initiative is not just about meeting the current needs of our workforce; it is also about anticipating and preparing for the ever-evolving future.

In an era characterised by digital transformation and remote work and flexible scheduling, it is imperative that our social protection measures evolve in tandem.

Consider the following traditional scenario: if a worker had an accident at the workplace, treatment would be covered by PERKESO under the Act 4, Employment Injury Scheme.

However, with more people working from home and mobile working arrangements, who would cover their injury occurred at home or outside of traditional working hours when distinctions between work and personal time have become increasingly unclear?

Here lies the necessity for statutory accident insurance, providing comprehensive coverage irrespective of the work environment or the time of injury.

Moreover, with the advancement of social protection for workers, the country is also positioned to be an attractive destination for foreign investors. Social protection plays a vital role in fostering the social element of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), in which our underscored commitment to sustainable and responsible welfare for workers can be met, ensuring its alignment with the ESG national development agenda.

In closing, efforts to enhance Malaysia’s social protection are crucial not only for addressing current gaps but ensuring a future that values every worker’s dignity. PERKESO’s work in establishing a non-occupational injury scheme, alongside Kesuma, underscores a progressive move towards creating a robust safety net that protects all workers around the clock, irrespective of their employment circumstances. This vision will essentially not only honour the hard work and dedication of our workforce but also prepare Malaysia in its commitment to global inclusive growth.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed

Group Chief Executive Officer


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