An amendment to the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966 (Act 350) passed unanimously at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday prescribes a jail term of up to five years for repeat offenders who hire children aged below 15, New Straits Times reported.

At the same time, the maximum fine has been increased to RM50,000, with repeat offenders facing maximum fine of RM100,000.

Speaking to reporters at after the bill was passed, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said: "The jail term is increased from maximum one year to not exceeding two years (for first offenders), and repeat offenders face increased jail sentence from maximum three years to five years.

"However, Act 350 is only applicable in Peninsular Malaysia and enforced by the Peninsular Malaysia Human Resource Department."

For Sabah and Sarawak, the provision of Act 350 is provided under the Labour Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 67) and Labour Ordinance (Sarawak Cap. 76) which is enforced by the Sabah Human Resources Department and Sarawak Human Resources Department respectively, Kulasegaran said.

He also pointed out that the amendment also provides that children and young persons - defined as those aged 15 but below 18 - were not allowed to be involved in dangerous work. This includes handling machinery, as well as jobs that expose them to dangerous chemicals, extreme temperatures, and loud noises.

He elaborated: "Employers are also barred from employing children and young persons in the selling of alcohol, jobs related to gambling and lottery, massage and reflexology service, prostitution or as social escorts."

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