The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has asked for additional time to allow its members to undertake the necessary adjustments to comply with the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990.
FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai described the full enforcement of the law, which was to take place from 1 September as being too drastic and would severely hamper the business revival initiatives of most industries. ” He said based on the briefings conducted by the Labour Department nationwide, employers, industries especially the SMEs, would find it challenging to fulfil all the conditions immediately by September 1 as there would be adjustments needed to be made to meet the provisions of the regulations. This included complying with the sleeping/personal space for each worker as stipulated in the minimum standards for accommodation.
“Many industries have to resort to shophouses for accommodation as they are met with objection from residents of housing estates when trying to house workers in dwellings within residential areas with close proximity to the industrial estates,” he said. He said there was also a need to renovate buildings/space to ensure compliance to the minimum standards for accommodation as well as converting non-residential buildings to buildings for dwelling/accommodation. Tan Sri Soh added that there was also the need to obtain building approvals/certificate of accommodation from the Labour Department and local councils.
“With the expanded scope of the law now to cover employers in all sectors/all workplaces under the City Council/Municipal Council, there are concerns on whether all local authorities are prepared and/or ready to facilitate and expedite approvals by employers to comply with the Act since the finer details of the Regulations were only just shared. “There could be delays in approvals due to technical procedures. The delays by the local council would have wide ranging impact on manufacturers,” he said.
He added that the adjustments that have to be undertaken would come with cost and time to the industry. In light of the current weak economic conditions, most industries were still struggling to sustain their business and maintain employment while rebuilding.
“In this regard, FMM reiterates our full support for the enhancement to the law which in the long-term would be of a great benefit and advantage for the industry and the nation. “However, given our current fragile business conditions and to facilitate industries towards compliance, FMM is appealing to the Minister of Human Resources to allow a further 12-month grace period for companies to undertake these extensive adjustments according to the requirements of the law with an assurance of a detailed action plan on their compliance strategies without imposing an immediate penalty,” Tan Sri Soh said.
He suggested that the next 12 months be used to continually educate the industry and issue a notice of non-compliance for improvements by industry in conformity to the provisions of the law. “There should also be a requirement for a firm commitment by the industry on the action plan towards compliance within a specified timeframe appropriate to the relevant areas of non-compliance.” he said.