Thursday, April 11, 2013

13th General Elections Notification

The Election Commission Malaysia has announced on 10th April 2013 that the 13th General Elections will be held on Sunday 5th May 2013. 2. For Companies which observe Sunday as the rest day, the employees are free to exercise their rights as voters on the polling day. 3. For Companies which observe Sunday as a working day or have a rota system in place, the Company must grant reasonable paid time-off to their employees to cast their votes on the polling day. Polling booths will generally be opened from 8.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. There should be no time constraint so far as the conventional shift employees are concerned. Such employees, whether rostered on the 1st shift (7.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.) or on the 2nd shift (3.00 p.m. – 11.00 p.m.) or on 3rd shift (11.00 p.m. – 7.00 a.m.), should experience little difficulty in fulfilling their obligations to vote outside their normal shift hours periods i.e. without seeking any paid time-off from work. In places where the polling booths close earlier than 5.30 p.m., first shift employees (7.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.) must be given paid time-off to cast their votes on polling day. 4. Where the employees are on 12 hours’ shift, such employees on the night shift would be able to cast their votes during the time allocated and no paid time-off should be given. Employees scheduled to work during the day on 12 hours’ shift should be given reasonable time-off to cast their votes on polling day. 5. As polling booths will generally close at 5.30 p.m., office and factory employees, who observe standard working hours i.e. 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. or 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., may be hard-pressed to get to their constituencies in time to cast their votes, bearing in mind travelling, weather and other factors. In such circumstances, employers may consider any one or a combination of the following arrangements for the convenience of their employees to cast their votes: (a) Allow them to report for work, say, one hour late; or (b) Grant them a one hour’s extension of their lunch break; or (c) Release them, say, one hour earlier. 6. If an employee needs to cast his/her vote at outstation polling centre and 5th May 2013 is a normal working day for the employee, it is reasonable for the Company to require the employee to apply for annual leave/unpaid leave for the said purpose. 7. Please be informed that under the Election Offences Act 1954, employers are obliged to allow their employees a reasonable period of paid time-off for voting. The relevant provisions of Section 25 of the Election Offences Act 1954 are as follows: "(1) Every employer shall, on polling day, allow to every elector in his employ a reasonable period for voting and no employer shall make any deduction from the pay or other remuneration of any such elector or impose upon or exact from him any penalty by reason of his absence during such period. (2) ………………………. (3) Any employer, who directly or indirectly, refuses, or by intimidation, undue influence, or in any other manner, interferes with the granting to any elector in his employ, of a reasonable period for voting, as in this section provided, shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine of five hundred ringgit or to imprisonment for six months." 8. The above is, in our view, a fair and reasonable construction of the obligations imposed on employers to ensure that all their employees are afforded a reasonable opportunity to vote. They are, however, intended only as guidelines and member companies are at liberty to make such other ‘ad hoc’ arrangements, as they may deem appropriate to deal with individual cases in the context of their operational requirements. 9. In applying for or granting paid time-off, reasonableness is to be expected from the employer and the employee. Thank you Hj Shamsuddin Bardan Executive Director MALAYSIAN EMPLOYERS FEDERATION

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