Friday, September 26, 2014

OT - workers in Malaysia have a choice to refuse? Reduce draconian OT limit of 104 hours/month to 50 hr/mth

OVERTIME - this was an exceptional situation where by some reason one's employer requires you to work more than NORMAL hours. This is not a common everyday occurrence but happens rarely when an 'emergency' of sorts happen - suddenly there is an increased demand and to fulfill that demand/need there is a need for extra work to meet that demand. Overtime work was never a regular occurence.

But alas, today, we find that every day...every week the employer requires one to do overtime - and this is just not right. What has happened to the right to 8 HOURS WORK 8 HOURS REST 8 HOURS LEISURE? [Note that you may be working 8 hours, but add on the the journey to and from the workplace, it can so easily be eating into our rest and leisure time)

Now we have factories operating 24 hours a day - but surviving with just 2 shifts as workers are 'forced' to work the extra hours? Why is the government not disallowing such practices and compelling any workplace that operates more than sixteen(16) hours to have 3 shifts - not just 2 shifts?

When it comes to overtime, workers have a CHOICE to agree to work overtime or not. If they agree, then employer pays the worker OVERTIME rate of pay, which is at least one and a half times the normal rate..

Do you have a choice to say you do not want to do overtime today to your employer? Well, most workers really do not anymore have the choice to do so.... even if a worker wants to take 'sick leave' or take time to go see the doctor, some employers insist on the worker finding some other to replace him/her on the said shift. The same also happens when the worker wants to take 'annual leave' for some emergency... 

Do employers ask the worker whether he agrees to do overtime everyday when overtime is required by employers? Not really - now, workers are just expected to OBEY and to follow orders... What about that consent required to be obtained from employees - well, sometimes the agreement to do overtime is 'given' when employment agreement are signed...sometimes after that, where consent is given once and for all times... This is just not right...and now maybe the refusal to do overtime or even work on rest days or public holidays may even be considered an 'employment misconduct' or a negative mark on one's employment record. 

Worse still, when workers are on short-term contracts rather than on regular employment until retirement, it is so easy to 'force' the employee to work more that 8 hours a day...and more than 48 hours a week. [Well, these were the limits placed in the Employment Acts, but subsequent amendments to the law allows these limits to be meaningless...]. There workers on precarious short-term contracts or on probation are just so worried to 'upset' the employer, that they do whatever overtime the employer asks of them - they hope that their contracts will be extended, renewed or maybe even they may finally become regular employees with employment security until retirement age...or for those on probation, that they will be confirmed as regular employees (but alas, the law still does not fix the duration of probation - and in some cases, this can even go on for years..). For those already with employment security, being regular employees, they worry about promotions and wage increments... There really is NO CHOICE generally for workers - and this why the government through law must step in to prevent abuse and injustice...

To prevent employers making employees work too many hours per day, the government comes in and creates a limit to the number of hours an employer can make its employees do overtime.

One law that sets limits to overtime was the Employment (Limitation of Overtime Work) Regulations 1980 - and this was amended in 1991, and the limit was increased to one hundred and four(104) hours in any one month. 

The accepted number of working days per month is 26, therefore this regulation allowed for up to 4 hours of  overtime work per day.(104/26).

This is a VERY BAD law - Why? 8 hours normal working hours PLUS 4 hours overtime = 12 hours work everyday. 

I wonder how any CARING government could have past a law stipulating that the limit of overtime work per month was 104 - does this Malaysian government not care about workers...

Workers should be earning sufficient for themselves and their family's well being and livelihood working normal hours - 8 hours per day - and certainly not more than 40 hours a week - the most maybe with overtime 48 hours a week. To improve workers income, what is required is a more just MINIMUM WAGE (not RM900 - maybe at least RM1,500 or more) - and not make workers work 12 hours a day? Workers, as human beings, have families, a social and community life - workers are meant to have a LIFE - not be working 12 hours a day?

So, amend the present limit - for a start reduce the limit of overtime work to maybe FIFTY(50) HOURS PER MONTH - and maybe increase the overtime rate of payment to two times the ordinary rate of pay. 

Oh yes, some will say that migrant workers have no family or social life in Malaysia - and we should allow them to work and earn as much as they want. They want to work 12 hours and more and earn more for their families back home. How can we deny these migrant workers this right to work and earn more? - Well, my answer would be that they are also human persons and deserve to be treated equally as all other workers... The Malaysian government will not give a 'GREEN LIGHT' saying that it is OK to force(or make) migrant workers to work long hours (Remember, the universally accepted right/norm is 8 hours per day). We do not discriminate - or does Malaysia?

As I mentioned earlier, increase wages... and do not cheat them... 

“Twenty-two per cent of foreign workers were deceived about their wages, hours, overtime requirements or pay, provisions regarding termination of employment, or the nature or degree of difficulty or danger of their jobs,”- Even the owner/operator employers want to get rid of 'contractor for labour system' - they want direct hiring..

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