PETALING JAYA, Oct 6 — Employers are not in favour of a six-hour work day as local private sector workers are purportedly not on par with their counterparts in Sweden in terms of professionalism.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said Malaysian workers needed to be more professional to be able to cope with a six-hour work day.
He said Malaysia could only consider reducing the work day from the current eight hours if the workforce improved productivity and skills to be on par with developed nations.
“Our productivity level is considered low if we compare ourselves to Singapore with their workers outperforming us,” he said.
He said the percentage of skilled workers needed to be increased from 28 per cent to 50 per cent of the total workforce if shorter work days were to be considered.
Shamsuddin said if technical and vocational education and training was made the first choice for students, the 50 per cent goal may be achievable within the next 12 years.
The six-hour work day made waves in Sweden in February when a nursing home implemented it to improve the work-to life ratio for nurses.
Two companies in Sweden have fully adopted the proposal — Filimindus and Brath.
The Kiruna district in the country implemented the concept for its 250 staff in 1989 but discontinued the practice in 2005 saying it was too costly and complicated.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Ashok Philip said a shorter working day would not necessarily make for a healthier lifestyle.
“Who’s to say that six hours of work would reduce work-related stress? You now have fewer hours to complete the tasks you used to have eight hours to complete,” he said.
“Studies on work hours and the long-term health effects in other countries would not always be applicable to the Malaysian context.”
Ultimately, he said, it was a question of finding a balance between work and life to manage stress.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Datuk Seri Saw Choo Boon said six-hour work days were just not feasible here.