Over 270 Employers Penalised For Employee Rights Violations

Over 270 Employers Penalised For Employee Rights Violations

Human Resources Minister, V. Sivakumar, recently revealed that 272 employers in Malaysia have been hit with massive penalties that are worth up to RM2.17 million. Since 1 January this year, these employers were found to have violated labour laws by failing to protect the welfare and rights of their workers.

The Minister said that 1,321 investigation papers were opened against 645 employers found committing acts in breach of laws enforced by the Labour Department. There was even evidence found within some cases which contained elements of forced labour.

“The employers were found involved in matters such as unlawful deduction of wages, failure to provide contracts and payslips, failure to take several allowances into account when calculating overtime, failure to obtain Certificate of Accommodation and failure to pay minimum wages,” said the minister during a recent press conference.

“Enforcement action was carried out not to penalise the employers but to teach them a lesson… not to violate the rights of their employees,” he added.

According to The Star, Sivakumar also claims that up to 128 employers have already been charged in court for several offences and faced a total of RM242,000 in penalties. Despite this, he assured that the labour situation within the country is under control with a number of measures in place to deter such exploitative practices.

“Statistics show that up to 23 million people are involved in forced labour globally. The Asia Pacific region holds the highest ratio in which four out of 1,000 people are victims of forced labour and countries are playing their role in tackling the matter,” said Sivakumar.

“Malaysia has ratified the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Forced Labour Convention No 29 which defines forced labour as ‘all work or services… exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. Malaysia aims to achieve zero forced labour cases by 2030,” he added.

In order to help employees know their rights, Sivakumar also launched the ministry’s Guidelines to Prevent and Combat Forced Labour Practices at the Workplace.

Cases of forced labour as defined by the ILO can identified by 11 indicators:

  • abuse of vulnerable groups
  • deception
  • restriction of movement
  • isolation
  • physical and sexual violence
  • intimidation and threats
  • retention of identification documents
  • withholding of wages
  • debt bondage
  • abusive working and living conditions
  • excessive overtime

According to Sivakumar, the most common excuse given by employers during forced labour cases is that they were not aware of the law, while the workers did not know how the law could protect their rights. As such, the latest interaction of the ministry’s guidelines is aimed at informing all relevant parties.

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