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What you need to know about the proposed amendments to Malaysia’s Industrial Relations Act 1967

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In Malaysian Parliament on 7 October, the Bill seeking to amend the Industrial Relations Act 1967 was read, as a holistic review of Act 177 in conformity to international standards and to bring transformation to the industrial relations landscape in Malaysia.

The discussion was led by Minister of Human Resources, M Kulasegaran (pictured above). The amendments include provisions to allow an appeal of any decision of the Industrial Court to be made to the High Court (detailed below).


Here are some of the proposed amendments employers need to make note of:

1. To expedite the process of reference of complaints to the Industrial Court, the Director-General for Industrial Relations will now have the power to refer a complaint to the Industrial Court for hearing. Under the current Act, the HR Minister holds this power.

2. Any workmen cannot go on strike after the Director General has made a decision under section 9 of Act 177 even though they may be dissatisfied with his decision.

3.  Any other trade unions of workmen cannot make a claim for recognition under section 9 of Act 177 until:

  • A claim is resolved under paragraph 9(3)(a)
  • A claim is deemed to have been withdrawn under subsection 9(4).
  • A decision is made by the Director General in respect of a claim for recognition by a trade union in respect of any workmen or a class of workmen under the same section.

4. A reduction in the time period (from three years to one year) in which a trade union of workmen is barred from making any claim for recognition in respect of the same workmen or class of workmen in which another trade union of workmen has been accorded recognition.

5. A new procedure will be used to give one trade union of workmen sole bargaining rights to represent the same workmen or class of workmen, to address issues where there are more than one trade union of workmen.

6. Where a trade union of workmen has obtained the sole bargaining rights to represent any workmen or class of workmen, no other trade unions shall have the same rights for a period of three years or unless the trade union of workmen which has obtained the sole bargaining rights has ceased to exist.

7. Two procedures will be added to determine recognition to be accorded to a trade union of workmen by the trade unions of workmen or the Director General.

8. Employers, trade union of employers and trade union of workmen will be barred from extending an invitation to commence collective bargaining until three months before the expiry of the existing collective agreement.

9. An employer and a workman can be represented by any other person, except an advocate and lawyer, during proceedings with the Director General.

10. Where the workman is with a mental disability, they can be represented by their next-of-kin, upon approval by the High Court.

11. The President of the Industrial Court and the Chairman of the Industrial Court will sit alone when dealing with any complaint of noncompliance of an award for a reference made under subsection 20(3) of Act 177 in order to expedite the process.

12. Officers from the ministry responsible for HR, with more than 15 years of experience in labour and industrial relations, and is a qualified person as defined in the Legal Profession Act 1976 [Act 166] can be considered for the appointment as a Chairman under subsection 23(2) of Act 177.

13. The Industrial Court can hear and determine the matter before it even if the date of dismissal as stated in the Director General’s reference is disputed by the parties or is incorrect.

14. Industrial Court can impose interest rate (of 8% per annum, or lesser rate as the court may direct) for awards relating to payment of money as a deterrent measure against the delay in compliance with the awards.

15. The Industrial Court can continue with the hearing of a case even after the death of the workman who made the representations.

  • The Industrial Court can award backwages or compensation in lieu of reinstatement or both to the next-of-kin of the deceased workman.
  • Any award made by the Industrial Court is binding on the next-of-kin of the deceased workman in relation to a reference under subsection 20(3) of Act 177.

16. An aggrieved party who is not satisfied with an award of the Industrial Court to appeal to the High Court.

17. To remove the imprisonment sentence from:

  • Subsection 40(3) of Act 177.
  • Section 46 of Act 177, subsection 46(1) and (2)

18. An increase in fines as follows:

  • Subsection 40(3) of Act 177: From RM1,000 to RM5,000
  • Section 46 of Act 177, subsection 46(1) and (2): From RM1,000 to RM5,000
  • Section 47 of Act 177: From RM1,000 to RM5,000
  • Section 48 of Act 177: From RM500 to RM5,000
  • Section 56 of Act 177: From RM2,000 to RM50,000
  • Section 60 of Act 177: From RM5,000 to RM50,000

19. The HR Minister will be enabled to stop a strike or lock-out if it endangers the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.

20. The Industrial Court can order a person convicted of an offence under subsection 56(3) of Act 177 to make payment due to the workman by virtue of an order made under section 30 of Act 177.

21. The HR Minister can make regulations to provide for the procedures relating to the process of determining the sole bargaining rights.


During the transitional period, before the operational date of the amendments to the Act, all proceedings shall proceed and have effect as if the principal Act had not been amended by this Act. This applies to the following:

  • Complaints made under section 8.
  • Disputes referred unders subsection 9(1a).
  • Claims for recognition made under section 9.
  • Representations for reinstatement made under section 20 of the principal Act.
  • All proceedings commenced or awards made before the Industrial Court in relation to a reference under subsection 8(2a), subsection 20(3) and section 26.

All rules and regulations, forms, directions and letter of authorisations made, issued or granted under the principal Act shall continue to be in force until they are revoked or amended.

Any investigation, trial or proceedings done, taken or commenced under the principal Act immediately before the coming into operation of this Act, shall be dealt with as if the principal Act had not been amended by this Act.


Photo / Minister Kulasegaran’s Facebook

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