Navigating HR Compliance in Malaysia

Navigating compliance in Malaysia HR is vital as the business scene is always changing. With factors like technology and regulations evolving, HR leaders and employers must keep up to ensure both legal adherence and business success.This article aims to guide you through the essentials of HR Malaysia compliance. From understanding labor laws to staying updated on industry trends, we’ll cover everything you need to know to navigate HR compliance effectively. Whether you’re an experienced HR professional or a business owner, this article will provide you with the knowledge and tools to stay compliant in Malaysia’s ever-changing business landscape.

Why is HR compliance important?

In any given country or state, laws are provided by the government to regulate business operations. These laws include labor laws designed to safeguard the rights and well-being of employees, covering aspects like wages, working hours, discrimination, health, and safety in the workplace.

HR compliance ensures that these laws are understood, implemented, and followed within an organization. 

Failure to adhere to these laws are not only limited to legal issues but also reputational damage, loss of employee trust, decreased morale, and even operational disruptions. Therefore, compliance is crucial for maintaining a positive and productive work environment.

Additionally, HR compliance can vary from location to location due to differences in laws and regulations governing employment practices. For human resources in Malaysia, this involves understanding the specific requirements under HR Malaysia employment laws. This is crucial for ensuring your companies remain compliant. 

Read next: The 2024 HR Compliance Checklist: APAC Edition

What are the key employment laws for Human Resources in Malaysia?

1. Employment Act 1955

The Employment Act 1955 is the primary legislation for Human Resources in Malaysia that outlines the legal rights and responsibilities of both the employer and employees. It covers matters such as terms and conditions of employment, working hours, overtime, rest days, annual leave, and termination of employment, among others. 

The Act applies to employees engaged in manual labor, clerical work, or any other type of work, with a few exceptions such as domestic servants, certain categories of employees covered under other specific laws, and managerial or executive employees earning above a certain threshold. 

Under the Employment Act 1955, employers are required to meet the minimum standards set out for employment practices, which employers must adhere to for the benefit of their employees. 

2. Industrial Relations Act 1997

The Industrial Relations Act 1997 (IRA) is also one of the major HR Malaysia laws governing employment relationships, as well as trade unions and employers’ associations in Malaysia. The Act aims to promote and maintain industrial harmony and provide the regulation of the relations between employers, workmen and their trade unions. The IRA includes provisions addressing representation in cases of unfair dismissal, claims for recognition by trade unions, and the process of collective bargaining. 

3. Social Security (Socso) Act 1969

The Employees’ Social Security Act 1969, also known as the SOCSO Act, is a Malaysia HR law that created the Social Security Organization (SOCSO) to provide social safety nets for employees in the private sector and their dependents. 

Under this act, employees and their employers contribute to the SOCSO fund, which provides financial assistance in the event of work-related injuries, disabilities, occupational diseases, and death. SOCSO administers various schemes, including the Employment Injury Scheme, Invalidity Scheme, and Invalidity Pension Scheme, to provide benefits such as medical treatment, disability income, and rehabilitation services to eligible individuals.

4. Workers’ Minimum Wage Order

The Workers’ Minimum Wage Order is another key employment law HR leaders and employers should take note of when it comes to staying compliant with HR Malaysia laws. This is because the wage order sets a legal threshold for employee compensation. Failing to comply with the Order can result in penalties for employers. Another advantage this legislation serves is that it can help prevent disputes between employers and employees over wages. 

5. Other relevant regulations

Aside from the HR Malaysia employment laws mentioned above, some other relevant laws also include: 

  • Employment Provision Fund Act 1991: The EPF Act 1991 establishes the Employees Provident Fund, requiring both employees and employers in Malaysia to make monthly contributions. Its goal is to provide financial security for employees’ retirement through managed investments.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act: This legislation ensures the safety, health, and welfare of employees at work.

Relevant reading: What is HRDF in Malaysia?

What are the benefits of compliance for HR Malaysia?

Malaysia HR
Malaysia HR

Malaysia HR errors cost businesses huge penalties. According to a statistical report, instances of non-compliance have led to significant fines, while employment lawsuits have seen a 200% increase over the past two decades. Compliance with HR Malaysia laws and standard practices help organizations steer clear of legal troubles. Non-compliant employers may also be subjected to audits and inspections by government authorities tasked with enforcing labor laws. These inspections can lead to further penalties and corrective actions mandated by the authorities.

Improve employee relationships and morale

Malaysia HR labor laws exist to protect the rights and well-being of employees. Compliance with HR Malaysia laws ensures that each worker is treated fairly and provided with essential rights and benefits. This includes ensuring your employees are being paid fairly and working under safe conditions within reasonable working hours. Companies who prioritize labor law compliance demonstrate their commitment to creating a supportive and respectful work environment. This in turn boosts employee morale, satisfaction, and efficiency of work

Stronger employer brand

Failure to comply with labor laws can tarnish the employer’s reputation. A negative reputation can have long-term implications on a businesses prospects and profitability. However, if the business adheres to HR Malaysia regulations, it builds a reputation of a responsible employer in Malaysia, making it more attractive to top talent in the job market. 

Improved business reputation

Nowadays, consumers, employees and stakeholders care more about businesses behaving ethically. This is because being ethical is really important for running a successful company. When a business follows HR Malaysia laws, it not only stays out of trouble but also builds a good reputation for being fair and transparent, which fosters community trust and support. 

Strategies to Stay Compliant in Malaysia HR

Now that we’ve established the importance of compliance for Human Resources in Malaysia, here are some strategies that you can implement to remain compliant with HR Malaysia laws and regulations. 

Stay informed

Staying compliant with HR Malaysia laws can be a daunting task due to the frequent changes and updates. It requires consistent effort and attention to stay informed about the latest regulations and ensure that the organization meets its legal obligations. 

Some practical ways Malaysia HR leaders and employers can stay updated on compliance laws:

  • Engage in networking activities with other HR professionals, either through formal events or informal gatherings, to exchange knowledge, share experiences, and stay informed about compliance practices.
  • Rely on media reports for updates.
  • Subscribe to updates from law firms specializing in employment law.
  • Conduct regular audits and reviews of HR Malaysia practices to ensure compliance.
  • Monitor these changes by reviewing official government websites that provide information and updates on compliance laws.

Develop clear policies

Another way to remain compliant with Malaysia HR laws and standard practices would be to develop consistent policies and procedures that adhere to these laws. The policies you create should be clear, comprehensive, and aligned with legal requirements and industry standards. 

This is because they serve as guidelines for employees and management alike, covering various aspects such as code of conduct, health and safety, leave and attendance, training and development, and more. 

Additionally, your policies and practices should remain accessible to all employees and should be properly documented.

Maintain accurate records

In regards to HR Malaysia, employers are legally required to maintain certain types of employee records under federal and state law. For example, as outlined by the Employment Act 1995 and employment regulations, employers must maintain records of employees’ salaries, wages, allowances, bonuses, and deductions, including records of overtime worked and any other remuneration provided. 

Relevant reading: Your Guide to Malaysia Payroll

Another example would be the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 which requires employers to maintain records containing employees’ personal information such as full name, identification number (e.g. MyKad number), contact details, and residential address. The records should cover employment contracts, attendance, salary and benefits, personal information, disciplinary actions, workplace safety, training, terminations and statutory filings. 

A well maintained record is important for these two reasons: 

  • Accountability and transparency: This demonstrates fairness and accountability in employment practices. Transparent record keeping builds trust between employers and employees.
  • Audit preparedness: With proper recording keeping, employers can easily undergo audits by regulatory authorities, or internal audits. This ensures compliance with statutory requirements. 

Invest in training on regulations

Investing in ongoing training programs for leaders and managers in Human Resources in Malaysia is important to ensure your company is compliant with HR Malaysia laws.

New hires should be provided resources and receive thorough orientation to ensure they understand their rights and responsibilities within the organization. They should also know how to report non-compliance. An environment where employees feel safe is also created when you provide regular training on preventing workplace injury. This shows your employees you care about their well-being.

Additional resources: The Ultimate Employee Handbook Template

Seek professional guidance when necessary

There are employment law attorneys that can provide your company with expert guidance on HR Malaysia compliance matters. This can help you avoid costly legal disputes and maintain a positive reputation as an employer. 

Importance of Tools for Malaysia HR Compliance

Streamlined data management

Staying on top of HR Malaysia compliance laws means investing in software that automate and streamline the record keeping process. Manual record-keeping is error-prone and time-consuming. HR tools allow for secure digital storage of employee data, contracts, policies, and other crucial documents. This makes it easier to track information, find what you need quickly, and ensure accuracy.

Read next: The Top 5 Payroll Software Malaysia Teams Are Using in 2024

Enhanced enforcement of regulations

HR software for processes such as payroll and applicant tracking include compliance measures that can make it easier for employers and HR leaders to stay compliant on HR Malaysia laws and best practices. 

  • Leave management: Managing employee leave requests can be a complex task. HR tools automate leave tracking, approvals, and balances. This saves HR time, improves transparency for employees, and minimizes errors.
  • Payroll management: Accurate and timely payroll is essential for employee morale. HR software can automate payroll calculations, deductions, and tax filings. This reduces the risk of errors and streamlines the entire payroll process.

Improved communication

HR tools enhance compliance for Human Resources in Malaysia through employee self-service portals. Announcements, policy updates, and payslip information can be easily disseminated electronically through a self-service portal. 

Aside from that, the portal streamlines processes by allowing employees to track leave balances, request time off, and access payslips from their end, reducing the burden on Human Resources in Malaysia.

Additional reading: Why an Employee Self-Service Portal is Your Silver Bullet for Engagement

Better decision making

With compliance management software, you can gain valuable insights to inform your strategic Malaysia HR and business functions. Workforce trends, performance metrics, and leave patterns can be easily analyzed for better resource allocation and talent management.

Building a Culture of Compliance with HR Technology

Human Resources in Malaysia play an important role in driving organizational success through effective talent management, compliance with labor laws, and fostering a positive company culture

Omni frees Malaysia HR teams from administrative cycles by automating the entire end-to-end employee lifecycle — from recruitment and onboarding to employee engagement and payroll — allowing you to redirect your time to strategic work that drives business growth.

Powering Asia’s fastest-growing, modern companies, Omni scales alongside your company so you can customize and leverage the system to meet your business exactly where you are — as well as where you’re going. 

With a full suite of modules to support every aspect of your business, Omni’s platform offers an intuitive and fully customizable platform that integrates with your team’s favorite tools for a seamless and timely adoption.

Book a demo with us today and learn how Omni can help you build a competitive advantage for Human Resources in Malaysia.

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