Put specifics in writ­ing or face le­gal con­se­quences, em­ploy­ers told

New Straits Times - - News - ALIZA SHAH KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

EM­PLOY­ERS must clearly state their ex­pec­ta­tions of fu­ture em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing their choice of at­tire be­fore both par­ties sign on the dot­ted lines.

They can­not there­after, im­pose new rul­ings at their whims and fancy as work­ers can take le­gal ac­tion against them for go­ing against the em­ploy­ment con­tract.

Hu­man Re­sources Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Richard Riot said al­though the Em­ploy­ment Act was silent on dress codes or ethics for fe­male em­ploy­ees, em­ploy­ers must make sure any specifics must be in of­fi­cial writ­ing and that their charges were well aware of them be­fore their em­ploy­ment was for­malised.

“Un­der ba­sic em­ploy­ment laws, an em­ployer has ev­ery right to de­cide on the cri­te­ria they want to im­pose on their em­ploy­ees.

“How­ever, this must be clearly stated in the terms and con­di­tions of the em­ploy­ment con­tract and should be un­der­stood by the em­ploy­ees be­fore they sign up.

“For em­ploy­ers who bar their em­ploy­ees from wear­ing the hi­jab, if there was noth­ing on it in the em­ploy­ment con­tract to say that it is dis­al­lowed, they would be breach­ing the em­ploy­ment agree­ment,” he said, adding that the af­fected em­ploy­ees could then seek le­gal re­dress for breach of em­ploy­ment con­tract on the part of the em­ployer.

Em­ploy­ees, he said, could also file a claim for un­fair dis­missal if their em­ploy­ers pro­hib­ited them from wear­ing the hi­jab, adding that in such an event, the em­ployee could file a case un­der Sec­tion 20 of the In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Act 1967 on grounds of “ter­mi­na­tion of em­ploy­ment with­out just cause and ex­cuse”.

They, he said, would also be legally em­pow­ered to end their em­ploy­ment con­tract on grounds of “de­lib­er­ate breach of the em­ploy­ment con­tract, un­der Sec­tion 13 (2) of the Em­ploy­ment Act.

Richard was com­ment­ing on the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing some ho­tels pro­hibit­ing their front­line staff from wear­ing the hi­jab, or head­scarf.

He told em­ploy­ers, that they should be play­ing their role to en­sure there was no room for dis­crim­i­na­tion at the work­place.

“The un­der­ly­ing obli­ga­tion of any em­ployer is to en­sure the pro­mo­tion of a sound and qual­ity in­dus­trial re­la­tions at­mos­phere at their work­places.

“This obli­ga­tion is em­bod­ied in the Code of Con­duct for In­dus­trial Har­mony, which is a code recog­nised by the In­dus­trial Court as a morally bind­ing piece of so­cial in­stru­ment to guide all so­cial part­ners in in­dus­try to pro­mote cor­dial work­place re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion,” he said, adding that every­one should also give due re­spect to the rights of in­di­vid­u­als to prac­tise their choice of re­li­gion as guar­an­teed un­der Ar­ti­cle 11 of the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.

Dis­crim­i­na­tion against women who wear the head­scarf is an is­sue close to home for Pu­teri Umno head Datuk Mas Er­miey­ati Sam­sudin, who said her sis­ter-in­law was told to her face that a va­cant po­si­tion was un­suit­able for her be­cause she wore the tudung.

“The is­sue of em­ploy­ers pre­vent­ing their work­ers from wear­ing the head­scarf should not be hap­pen­ing.

“I read a re­port on the so­cial me­dia about it (head­scarf ban for ho­tel front­line po­si­tions) and as the head of Pu­teri Umno, I am against this pol­icy,” she said.

Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Ba­harom said pro­hibit­ing em­ploy­ees work­ing on the front­line from wear­ing head­scarf was un­ac­cept­able.

He said the ho­tel in­dus­try should be mind­ful of lo­cal cul­ture and also take into con­sid­er­a­tion re­li­gious sen­si­tiv­i­ties to avoid dis­crim­i­nat­ing against Mus­lim em­ploy­ees.

“It is un­ac­cept­able and dis­crim­i­nat­ing ... no one can ac­cept such pro­hi­bi­tions, even at the in­ter­na­tional level,” he said.

Datuk Seri Richard Riot

Datuk Mas Er­miey­ati Sam­sudin

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Ba­harom

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