Suhakam: Protect job seekers from discrimination in labour law amendment

Suhakam said the government should protect both job seekers as well as employees from workplace discrimination. — Reuters pic
Suhakam said the government should protect both job seekers as well as employees from workplace discrimination. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today urged the government to include protection for job seekers against discrimination in the amendment of the Employment Act 1955.

In a statement today, the human rights group said this was because there has been a suggestion that the phrase “job seekers” and a section of the draft amendment to protect people who are looking for jobs was proposed to be removed.

“We are dismayed by this planned removal, as such an action will effectively allow for discrimination to continue. We believe that existing laws can and should be amended to provide safeguards to job seekers to reflect the Federal Constitution’s prohibition of discrimination as provided by Article 8 (2).

“Furthermore, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which Malaysia has ratified articulate protections against discrimination in terms of the right to the same employment opportunities,” the statement read.

Suhakam said the government should protect both job seekers as well as employees from workplace discrimination.

The group also urged Putrajaya to ensure the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination is maintained in the law itself, and not put into a regulation.

According to a Malaysiakini report today quoting the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan a proposal to include an anti-discrimination provision into the Employment Act 1955 has been withdrawn. 

He said this was because the recruitment process falls under “pre-employment”.

“The employees must be first employed then the Act applies. It doesn’t cover issues about pre-employment.

“It is true. There were discussions and then they decided not to pursue the matter (the pre-employment provision). We actually put our position much earlier to the ministry,” he was quoted as saying. 

The Human Resources ministry had recently included an amendment to protect job seekers and employees from discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, disability, marital status, pregnancy and language, in which Suhakam claims that it may be removed.

Last month, its minister M. Kulasegaran said that the amendments to the Act may be tabled at the next parliamentary meeting in October.

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