Expert: Act against those who don’t comply with new wage policy

PETALING JAYA: Employers resisting changes in the law in relation to the new national minimum wage must face action, says an expert.

Malaysia University of Science and Technology economics professor Geoffrey Williams said he felt the slow implementation could be due to some employers resisting changes in the law.

“They are trying to find ways around it by cutting hours or benefits. This should be reported so that the authorities can act against companies that do not respect the law.

“The authorities should publish the list of companies penalised, just like they have done on chicken cartels, to set an example. This is an effective remedy and deterrent to others,” he added.

Prof Williams, who is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), said this was the right time to introduce the higher minimum wage to help protect those on poverty-line income.

“The minimum wage has no impact on rising prices, which are caused by many other factors. It is the right time to introduce this small minimum wage increase to help protect people from the rising cost of living,” he said.

Prof Williams said a higher wage would result in an increase in local shops and this would help micro, small and medium enterprises and local family businesses.

He said the best way forward for employers was to fully implement the higher minimum wage and add more to the terms and conditions of their workers’ contracts to improve hiring, retention and productivity.

“Good employers will have no problem finding people,” he added.

Prof Williams said for employees, the best way forward was to quit jobs with low wages and poor terms and conditions.

“They should report companies that don’t comply with the minimum wage and other employment laws so that the authorities can take action,” he added.

However, MIER senior research fellow Dr Shankaran Nambiar said although the labour market had improved, many companies were still far from reaching the pre-pandemic level of business.

He said some employers might have been slow in implementing the new national minimum wage rate of RM1,500 due to challenging financial issues.

“For many, rising costs means slim profit margins. Some have not been able to keep afloat,” he said, adding that companies were still faced with a labour shortage, especially those dependent on low-skilled migrant workers.