Previously, only employees employed on estates were covered under the Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities Act 1990 (Act). The new amendment, the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) Act 2019 (Amendment Act) which came into force on 1st June 2020, has now expanded the coverage to include ALL employees in Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan.
Why is this important? The Amendment Act sets out minimum living standards for workers in all types of hostels/dormitories. Now it has clarified specific standards, including measurement standards and has taken more responsibilities to employers. Failure to comply with the standards of the Amendment Act will be deemed as an offence and if convicted, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 and/or jail term not exceeding 1 year.
Below are some highlights that employers need to take note of;
Under the Amendment Act, a bedroom should have a minimum floor area of 3.6 square metres, and a dormitory should have a sleeping area with minimum floor area of 3 square metres for each employee.
Employers and centralised accommodation providers need to provide these items to every employee:
- A single bed measuring not less than 1.7 square metres. And if a double-decker bed is provided, the space between two beds shall not be less than 0.7 metres;
- A mattress at least four inches thick, a pillow and a blanket;
- A locked cupboard (measuring a minimum 0.35 metres long, 0.35 metres wide, 0.9 metres high).
- Health & Safety
We have been hearing news on employers being charged for failing to provide a safe living environment (especially during the current COVID-19 outbreak). Under the Amendment Act, employers and centralised accommodation providers are accountable to provide the following:
- A separate accommodation to employees of the opposite gender;
- Take fire safety measures in accordance with the relevant written laws;
- Ensure that the electrical wiring systems comply with safety requirements in accordance with the relevant written laws;
- Ensure that the employees receive the necessary medical assistance; and
- Take preventive measures to contain the spread of infectious diseases as ordered by the Medical Officer of Health, including immunisation against any infectious disease.
- Rental Charges
The Amendment Act allows an employer to collect any sum for rent or charge in respect of accommodation provided under the new Part IIIa. The sum for rent or charge shall be collected by way of deduction from the salary of the employee (see Section 24G).
- Accommodation must be certified
The Amendment Act provides that all accommodation to employees must be approved with a Certificate for Accommodation (COA) issued by the Department of Labour of Malaysia. The application must be made before the accommodation is ready to move in.
There are more key changes in the Amendment Act that employers need to be aware of, especially when we are seeing a rise of COVID-19 cases at workers provided accommodation areas. For further enqueries or understanding, seek consultancy from the relevant authorities or you can get in touch with our consultants to be updated on the changes in the Amendment Act.