‘Govt will seriously consider views on minimum wage’

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KUALA LUMPUR — The government will give serious consideration to employers’ views before deciding on the new minimum wage, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran assured.

He said the government is leaning towards a gradual increase in monthly salaries as the most acceptable solution.

“If the increase is too steep it will affect businesses, mainly the smaller ones even to the extent of closing down.

“We definitely don’t want that to happen because business closures will also result in the laying off of workers,” he said after a meeting with the National Wages Consultative Council and the Wages Technical Consultative Committee yesterday.

Kulasegaran added the council is submitting a proposed minimum wage to the Cabinet, taking into consideration socio-economic factors such as an employer’s ability to pay wages, productivity rate, cost of living index and current labour market conditions — such as the current employment rate.

“This is a good approach as proposals to the Cabinet should not just be based on whims and fancies,” he said in his speech.

Kulasegaran also said the ministry has instructed the Labour Department to strengthen its enforcement activities, especially to ensure compliance among the SME employers.

“I strongly believe that it is not good enough to just have good policies in place without a good enforcement mechanism.”

He said as far as minimum wage is concerned, 168,000 places of employment were inspected for minimum wage compliance between Jan 1, 2014 and March 31 this year, adding 166,000 places or 98 per cent of employers had complied with the minimum wage ruling.

“No worker will become rich from earning a higher minimum wage,” he said.

Recently, Kulasegaran said the government plans to announce the outcome of its minimum wage review by August.

In its manifesto, Pakatan Harapan had pledged to standardise and increase the monthly minimum wage to RM1,500 by the first term and review it every two years.

The current minimum wage rate is RM1,000 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and
Labuan.