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This article is brought to you by MECA.
Victor Gan, COO of MECA, shares his insights on the climate of employment laws in Malaysia.
Victor Gan is the COO of MECA, a consulting firm specialising in industrial relations and employment laws. MECA, a well-established brand in industrial relations has been operating in Malaysia since 1996 and Victor was instrumental in the introduction of the brand to the Iskandar Region in 2015. Victor has grown the business from a start-up to one of the most sought-after employers’ consultants within the span of two years.
Victor is a LLB holder from the University of Tasmania, Australia. His scope of specialisation includes all employment law matters, including the Employment Act 1955 and Industrial Relations Act 1967. He has advised, represented and trained hundreds of employers in Malaysia. He shares his insights on the climate of employment laws.
Q. MECA has been a fairly established brand amongst employers in Malaysia. You’ve brought the brand out of the Klang Valley. How has your journey been thus far?
I was given the opportunity to expand the business in 2015. We started our first branch in Johor Bahru and a year later, we expanded to Penang. Both these branches are now growing steadily and we are expecting to launch more branches across other states in the next one-two years.
The journey thus far has been very pleasant for me. As a start-up in a completely new region, we relied heavily on a strong brand presence, which really helped us through the opening stages. It’s been three years now and I really feel that our people have contributed by providing top-class advisory and training services to employers.
Q. What have been the most common types of employment disputes / cases?
I will answer this from two perspectives. The first and most common type would be unlawful dismissal. This is when an employee considers that his dismissal was without just cause an excuse and brings an action under s.20 of the Industrial Relations A, 1967 for reinstatement. These claims are filed at the Industrial Relations Department (Jabatan Perhubungan Perusahaan).
The second most common form of action against an employer would not be a case. This would typically be non-compliance detected by the Labour Department (Jabatan Tenaga for any non-compliance of the Employment Act 1955.
The non-compliance can be detected either by way of a dire complaint from employees or through an audit conducted by officers of the Labour Department.
The potential liability faced by an employer for an unlawful dismissal claim could run up to 24 months’ back wages.
Both the aforementioned actions have been proven to be expensive for employers. For example, the potential liability faced by an employer for an unlawful dismissal claim could run up to 24 months’ back wages (from an employee’s last drawn salary) while a non-compliance case could be backdated for as long as six years.
This is notwithstanding the fact that a representative from within the company will be tasked to see through the claims instead of focussing on continuous growth of the company.
Q. You have almost a decade of experience in handling employment issues. What do you think of the level of awareness of employers?
There is an evident shift towards a strategic way of managing employee relations. In my years of experience dealing with HR practitioners, I have got the impression that compliance is key. As such, knowledge of the law has always been treated as priority, especially so in senior ranked positions within the HR department.
Nonetheless, the legislations related to employment in Malaysia are subject to much interpretation. This is especially so in the Employment Act 1955.
At MECA, our internal belief is to remove the rigidity in interpretation and to emphasise more on the practical side of things, the win approach in handling employees and tailoring advice to suit employees in every industry. That has been one of our key factors of success.
Q. What can employers and HR practitioners expect from MECA in the near future?
I can assure you that we have lot brewing! We look forward to hosting many more events for employers and HR practitioners, and to work hand in hand with employer associations. We strive to speak out for employers and to introduce best-in-class practices.
I have the desire to reach out to smaller businesses who may not have the resources to manage employee / industrial relations and employment disputes compared to larger organisations. This would primarily be the SMEs.
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