PETALING JAYA: Several workers interviewed in Petaling Jaya appear to be content with the three-hour reduction in the work week, saying it is enough to allow them to unwind and spend some extra time with their loved ones.
A convenience store employee who identified herself only as Yaya said it was good for workers’ wellbeing.
“It’s really beneficial,” she said. “The extra three hours allow workers to do other things and spend time with their families.”
She told FMT she believed the new policy would not greatly affect productivity or wages.
“Our schedules have only had minor changes to accommodate the 45-hour work week,” she said. “As for salaries, if a worker earned RM2,000 a month previously, it would go down at most to RM1,900.”
She pointed out that management must give early notification to employees if they require them to work overtime and must pay them for the extra hours.
Shamla Selva, who works in a florist’s shop, said the reduced hours had given her free time to pursue other interests.
“There have not been any pay cuts and we rarely work overtime,” she said. “Even if we did, we would be compensated. So, it’s been nice.”
She also said operations had not been affected much.
Zainab Jaei, a grocer’s employee, said the shorter hours had been good for her and her colleagues.
“I think the policy was implemented at the right time,” she said. “Everything is pretty much as it was. The reduction in hours is very positive for workers’ mental health.”
Restaurant co-owner Sofea Athila said the reduced hours had not affected her business at all although her workers, mostly foreigners, now had more time to rest.
“Their salaries and work output are the same,” she said. “The policy is not a hassle or hard to sustain.”
Amendments to the Employment Act were to have come into force last September but were deferred to Jan 1. They provide for reduced working hours from 48 to 45 hours a week, among other benefits to workers.
Small and Medium Enterprises Association chairman William Ng recently criticised the government for proceeding with the implementation, saying the time was not right and the enforcement was detrimental to productivity.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Effendy Abdul Ghani said the objective of the reduced hours was to increase the quality and productivity of workers.
“As long as employers manage their workforce well, they would not feel the effects of the reduced hours,” he said.