Human Resources Minister M. Kula Segaran has dismissed a claim by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) that about 30,000 people will lose their jobs this year. “On the contrary, with less than 24,000 unemployment recorded last year, there are actually more jobs readily available for them. “The unemployment rate shows nothing unusual, nothing frightening,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

MEF executive director, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan (pic) was reported to have said that the economic environment in and out Malaysia was tough, posing a big challenge for employers to maintain profitability. He estimates that 30,000 workers will be laid off this year, citing the increasing cost of business as the main reason for the big jump in retrenchment. Last year, about 21,000 lost their jobs. Given the bleak outlook for the job market, MEF urged the government to help employers retain their workers so that both employers and employees can benefit soonest when the economy recovers. Datuk Shamsuddin pointed out that the economy both within and without Malaysia is on the downward trend, posing a big challenge to employers in maintaining their current level of profitability. “Employers’ main concern is the increasingly higher input costs. “In Peninsular Malaysia, employers are not only affected by the 10% hike in minimum wage but also the new policy requiring them to pay Socso for their foreign workers. “We can expect some employers to revamp their business model, resulting in retrenchment.” Shamsuddin said. He said last year, which saw some 21,000 employees retrenched, was not too bad compared with 2017 where about 30,000 were laid off. But the situation will take a turn for the worse this year, to the extent that smaller companies might not be able to survive. What employers need most during trying times is government assistance, he said, and urged the new Pakatan Harapan government not to introduce measures that will increase the input costs. He suggested that the government should provide incentives for employers to retain their employees.