Major overhaul in store for Industrial Relations Act, says Kula

A series of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act have been tabled, which are expected to improve industrial harmony between employers and employees. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran says a major review is in store for the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) which aims to ensure industrial harmony between employers and employees, with key amendments tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

“The amendments will be debated and are expected to be approved by Parliament in the current session,” he said, adding that the proposed changes are in line with international standards to transform Malaysia’s industrial relations landscape.

Kula, who is a lawyer by profession, also said the views of stakeholders including the National Labour Advisory Council, Malaysian Employers Federation and Malaysian Trades Union Congress had been taken into account.

With the amendments, he said, the minister’s power to refer representations on dismissal cases to the Industrial Court would be transferred to the director-general for industrial relations in order to expedite the process.

“Cases that are not resolved through conciliation at the Industrial Relations Department will be referred to the Industrial Court without further filtering,” he added.

During the conciliation process at the department, employers or employees may be represented by the person of their choice except for lawyers, he said.

Employees with mental disabilities who do not have a guardian may be represented by their next of kin at conciliation proceedings, subject to the approval of the High Court.

The Industrial Court will also be empowered to continue proceedings if an employee dies, and to allow back wages, compensation in lieu of reinstatement or both to be awarded to the next of kin.

In the event that a dismissal is due to union busting, Kula said, the Industrial Court will also be empowered to make an award without being confined to the restrictions in the Second Schedule of the IRA.

He said the minister could also make an order allowing dismissed employees from any statutory authority to file a claim for unfair dismissal at the department.

The amendments will also pave the way for those dissatisfied with the Industrial Court award to appeal to the High Court within 14 days of the decision.