Malaysia Proposes Industrial Relations Law, Union Rights Changes

Connecticut Enacts Paid Family and Medical Leave

Proposed changes to Malaysia’s industrial relations law passed the lower house of parliament on 9 Oct 2019. Proposals include assigning new powers to the director general of industrial relations, and changing trade union rights and employment claims procedures.  


  • The director general of industrial relations (DGIR) could decide on trade unions’ recognition and representation — formerly the minister of human resources was responsible for determining such matters. 
  • The DGIR could decide if a “workman” is employed in a managerial, executive or security capacity for representation purposes by a trade union. The industrial relations law defines a “workman” as an individual employed under a contract of employment, regardless of compensation or occupation.
  • The DGIR would directly submit unfair dismissal claims to the industrial courts if the matter can’t be settled by conciliation — the goal is to reduce any backlog. Currently, the minister decides if a claim should be submitted.
  • Employees would vote by secret ballot for which union should have sole bargaining rights, if the employer recognizes more than one union. 
  • Unions could raise certain workforce issues during collective bargaining discussions, for example, matters concerning employee promotions, demotions, transfers and dismissals.
  • Increased penalties would apply to breaches of the act. Penalties for noncompliance with an industrial court award or collective agreement would increase from RM2,000 to RM50,000. Increased penalties on issues concerning illegal strikes and lockouts would also apply to individuals.  

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Caryn Tan
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Associate, Mercer Career

Fiona Webster
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Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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