Malaysia to make decision on Employment Insurance Scheme

PUTRAJAYA - A decision will be made soon on the setting up of an Employment Insurance Scheme to help retrenched workers in the country, said Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib.

Such a scheme, he said, was one of key policy interventions explored by Malaysia.

"I am told that serious engagements by our ministry and various parties are being done and a decision will be made soon by the Government," said Ismail in his keynote address at the ASEAN "Seminar on Balancing Flexibility and Security in Labour Market" here yesterday.

The Employment Insurance Scheme, aimed at helping retrenched workers through temporary financial aid, reskilling and upskilling, was announced in Budget 2015 last year.

Issues relating to remedy of unfair dismissals law was currently "a bone of contention" among employers, workers and scholars, said Ismail while also expressing his worry over the present economic outlook.

"In Malaysia, during the economic crisis of 1997-1998 and 2008-2009, we had a steady increase of unfair dismissal cases filed at the Industrial Relations Department.

"After those periods, the cases returned to a normal pace. With an economic downturn possibly occurring in the near future, we are getting worried that dismissal and retrenchment cases would go up tremendously.

"We have to be better prepared for any eventuality to ensure that workers are not deprived of necessary protection and remedy in law," said Ismail.

Employers, he said, should also look at various flexible employment arrangements such as job sharing, "work from home" and "flexi time" to attract and motivate workers, particularly skilled labour.

"Flexible employment arrangements are an important human resource strategy for companies as work-life balance becomes a rising concern of the workforce, especially among the new generation," said Ismail.

Governments in ASEAN, he said, could consider giving incentives for expenses incurred by employers in implementing flexible employment arrangements.

The two-day seminar was attended by about 100 participants from ASEAN countries as well as dialogue partners from China, Japan, South Korea, trade unions, employers' organisations and civil society groups.