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Malaysia – Calls to increase flexible working to encourage women to work

29 November 2013

With the lowest female labour force participation rate in Asean, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has urged the government to amend the Employment Act to allow for annually set flexible working hours, reports the Sun Daily.

Despite having a higher number of female graduates compared with neighbouring countries, female labour participation currently stands at 49%. The MEF hopes that their proposed amendment will increase not only female participation, but also benefit retirees and those with disabilities.

The proposal from the MEF would be to amend the law stipulating the number of hours a company can employ a flexible worker. Currently, the number of hours a flexible worker can work is set per day or per week. The proposal suggests that the number of hours be set annually.

Shamsuddin Bardan, Executive Director of MEF, explained: "Thus, flexi-work hours will not look at the time of work but the need for each type of work and the end results."

"It will improve talent attraction and retention as well as improve employee engagement and job satisfaction, which can be translated to better productivity," MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said in his presentation at the Flexible Work Arrangement Workshop today.

Mr Bardan conceded, however, that implementing the proposal will be a challenge in Malaysia due to constraints in the legal environment to allow for flexible working hour arrangements and also to change the traditional mind-set of the people.

The MEF had submitted a proposal late last year on the new work arrangements and the amendment of the Employment Act. "But the government is not very serious about this. Currently very little is being done. Our Employment Act is based on a 1950s law and does not cater to the current needs of the workforce," Mr Bardan concluded. 

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