September is shaping up to be a good month for planning activities and family gatherings, thanks to the large number of public holidays. After National Day on August 31, there will be four major public holidays in September – Hari Raya Haji, the birthday of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V, Malaysia Day and Awal Muharram. On top of that, the Term 2 school holidays also start on Saturday.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MUTC) secretary-general J. Solomon said the public holidays would be good for workers, especially those in high-pressure environments. “Employers shouldn’t look at public holidays as unproductive, given the current work environment and the stress workers undergo. “I think they deserve the break,” he said. He added that many workers also take the opportunity to visit their hometown during breaks. “I think employers should not think that they are going to lose money. The health and value of the employees should be given emphasis.”

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, however, felt that productivity would suffer as many workers may not give their best closer to a public holiday. “Before and after these days, they will be in holiday mood so they will not put in 100% effort,” he said. “Some may even take medical leave and this can also cause problems to the employers. “The employers still have to pay wages, and the cost will be higher if companies want to operate on public holidays as they need to pay more.” Datuk Shamsuddin said Malaysia also adopted a five-day week, and as such there were ample holidays. “Employees also hardly exhaust their annual leave because they are entitled to two off-days weekly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Top Glove Corp Bhd noted too many public holidays may not be good for productivity and efficiency. “The estimated salary cost for one additional public holiday in Malaysia is about RM 1.5 billion per day. Unplanned or ad hoc public holiday is disruptive for business,” said Top Glove chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai said in a telephone interview with NST Business. Tan Sri Lim suggested three alternatives when granting a paid holiday declared under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951. “We could observe the public holiday and allow employees the day off with pay. If the public holiday fall on a rest day or another public holiday, the following working day shall be a substituted paid holiday,” he said. Alternatively, employers could request employees to work on the holiday declared and compensate them by paying additional two days’ wages at the ordinary rate of pay. Another option is for employers to request employees to work on the holiday and inform that the holiday will be substituted on another day as provided under Section 60D(1A) of the Employment Act 1955. b“Wages for work on that day should be the normal rate, not public holiday rate,” Lim said, adding the company can substitute the holiday without its employees’ agreement. The company has to fix the replacement date, which need not be the same date for all employees. 

Source: The Star / NST


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