The Malaysian Employers Federation has reminded employers that they are duty-bound to allow their workers to vote on polling day. MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said bosses must allow employees who are registered voters to have a reasonable amount of time off. “This is for employees who are registered voters at polling centres nearby”, he added. “That way, the company’s operations would not be disrupted too much. He added that employees who have registered as voters in another state are, however, not expected to be given time off at the company’s expense. “Employers should grant annual leave to these employees, if they apply for it,” Shamsuddin noted.

Meanwhile, Human Resources Minister, Datuk Riot Jaem asked employers to allow their workers to exercise their right to vote in the General Election on May 9 which falls on Wednesday. “Employers must allow their workers (to go out and vote). They must be given the opportunity,” he said when contacted by Bernama. “

Malaysia’s Election Offences Act 1954 makes it compulsory for employers to give employees time off to vote in the country’s general election. According to the Election Offences Act 1954 document on the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia website, employers must give employees a reasonable amount of time away from work to vote on polling day, without pay deduction, or penalty. “Every employer shall, on polling day, allow to every elector in his employment a reasonable period for voting, and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such elector or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during such period. “Any employer who, directly or indirectly, refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other manner, interfere with the granting to any elector in his employment, of a reasonable period for voting, as in this section provides, shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine of five thousand Ringgit or to imprisonment for one year,” the document showed.

Commenting on the issue, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon said having polls on a weekday will cause “inconvenience and hardship” to the public. He said the general election comes once every five years, and as such, it is the responsibility of citizens to vote for leaders to represent them and run the country.