Flexible working arrangements can boost employee productivity

The Employment Act 1955 was last amended in 2022, among other things, to include a new section related to the Flexible Working Arrangement (Part XIIC).

28 Apr 2024 11:02am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX by Bernama
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Flexible working arrangements can potentially increase employee productivity by providing them with greater autonomy over how they manage their workdays.

Head of Professional Development and Continuing Education Department, Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Assoc. Prof Dr Nor Wahiza Abdul Wahat, said flexible working arrangements allow employees to modify their work schedules according to their requirements and capabilities.

One benefit is that they allow employees to adjust their schedules according to personal commitments and family demands, thus lessening the stress associated with striking the right work-life balance.

"Employees who are allowed to set their own work schedules are likely to be more motivated to complete tasks efficiently. This will directly contribute to the organisation’s overall performance,” she told Bernama.

Nevertheless, she emphasised that good management and communication between companies and employees are essential to the success of flexible work schedules.

According to her, the management needs to be wise in handling online communications and provide suitable and sufficient support systems so that staff members can work together effectively and finish their tasks within the given time frame.

Echoing the sentiment, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani said with proper planning, communication and technology adoption, flexible work arrangements can be successfully implemented in Malaysia to enhance productivity and employee well-being.

Acknowledging the challenges at the implementation level, such as ensuring productivity, maintaining team collaboration and addressing specific industry needs like customer service hours, he said implementing flexible work hours in Malaysia post-Covid-19 pandemic is feasible, given the adaptations during lockdowns.

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"The pandemic has shown that remote work is possible and effective for many roles. Employees and employers have adapted to virtual collaboration tools, making flexible work hours more manageable.

"Certain industries like technology, finance and professional services are more adaptable to flexible work hours due to the nature of their work. Others, such as manufacturing or healthcare, may face challenges but can still implement modified schedules,” he said.

Mohd Effendy said many employees now prefer flexible work arrangements after experiencing the benefits during the pandemic, therefore this could drive employers to adopt and sustain flexible work hours.

He also lauded the government’s openness to flexible work arrangements as policies and guidelines to support telecommuting have been introduced, indicating a shift towards more flexible work options.

Club Employees Union of Peninsular Malaysia (CEUPM) secretary-general Rudy Rusly, on the other hand, believed that the employer has the prerogative rights regarding flexible work arrangements and they do not only come in the form of requests and permissions.

He said the ministry should regularly review the labour laws by prioritising the needs of the workforce in any amendment and work regulation, and look into how to make the employment system dynamic to adapt to changing times and not rely solely on the interests of large corporations.

On Wednesday, Human Resource Minister Steven Sim said workers in Malaysia can apply to their employers for flexible working arrangements based on time, days and location of work according to Sections 60P and 60Q of the Employment Act 1955.

He said such requests should be submitted to employers for feedback within 60 days, and if rejected, employers must provide reasons.

The Employment Act 1955 was last amended in 2022, among other things, to include a new section related to the Flexible Working Arrangement (Part XIIC) to meet current needs in necessary situations, such as to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Section 60P (1) of the act stipulates that an employee may apply to an employer for a flexible working arrangement to vary the hours of work, days of work or place of work subject to Part XII or anything contained in the contract of service.

Under Section 60Q (1), the employee shall make an application for flexible working arrangement under Section 60P in writing and in the form and manner as may be determined by the Director General. - BERNAMA