The Government has no plans to include amendments in the Employment Act 1955 to protect job seekers, says Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Mahfuz Omar (pic).
This includes pregnant job seekers, despite plans by the government to extend maternity leave from thencurrent 60 days to 90 days from 2021 in Budget 2020, as a strategy to modernise the labour market.
According to Mahfuz, the objective of the Employment Act 1955, or known as Act 265, is to supervise the terms and conditions of employees “who signed an employment contract with an employer”.
“The coverage of Act 265 only arises when the relationship between a job and employer begins,” he said during Question Time in Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 16).
In line with suggestions by the International Labour Organisation through the Discrimination, Employment and Occupation Convention, Mahfuz said the ministry is in the midst of reviewing provisions under Act 265 on prohibiting workplace discrimination.
The suggestions by the ILO on workplace discrimination cover gender, religion, race, disability, marriage status, pregnancy and language, said Mahfuz.
“However, the ministry has no plans to have protection provisions for job seekers in the amendments of Act 265,” he said.
Mahfuz was answering to a question raised by Nurul Izzah Anwar (PH- Permatang Pauh), who asked whether the government has steps to ensure that job seekers are protected under the Employment Act 1955.
Nurul subsequently asked a supplementary question, whether the government had any additional steps to protect women who might be discriminated over the 90-day maternity leave.
Mahfuz said there are no laws to address employers who chose not to hire pregnant women.
“But, they can lodge a complaint with us to take action against the employers. We can do negotiations and give advice so such incidents don’t happen.
“This is the role that is played by the ministry through the Labour Department or the corporate communications department,” he added.
Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) subsequently asked if any legal action can be taken against employees who discriminate against women and the disabled.
Mahfuz merely said the ministry is open to accept any complaints.
“If there are any complaints to the ministry, as I’ve said, even though it is not under the law, we will conduct negotiations and give advice to employers, so that they will not do such unreasonable things,” he added.