Focus View
Stop tabling half-baked Bills in Parliament
FocusM team | 11 Aug 2017 00:30
The government should stop introducing new Bills in Parliament without conducting comprehensive stakeholder engagement first. The postponement of the controversial Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) is just the latest. 

It is bewildering to see a Bill tabled one day and withdrawn three days later in order to engage with stakeholders. 
The decision apparently came after several ministers raised the concerns of stakeholders such as employers and employees. In March, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said the Cabinet had approved the scheme. 

This effort has ultimately proven to be just a waste of time for all those involved. Precious time could have been devoted to debating other Bills instead of always rushing them through. For example, amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act were debated and passed at 12.40am on Aug 10.  

As for the EIS, perhaps it is best to postpone it indefinitely. Providing a safety net for the retrenched is good but this scheme leaves much to be desired. 

The EIS is to be funded by both employers and employees and reportedly will garner a massive RM700-800 mil. That’s a lot of money to divert from companies’ coffers and workers’ pockets for a fund most will never need to tap. 

Unemployment hovered around 3.5% last year and the government forecasts it will fall slightly this year. With such a low unemployment rate, it is hard to justify such a huge fund. 

The Social Security Organisation (Socso) will manage the EIS. Who else will help manage it and provide oversight, given the large sum? Oversight is important as otherwise funds may be used for bailouts or irrelevant purposes.  

The Employment Act 1955 and Employment Termination and Lay-Off Benefits Regulations 1980 already contain retrenchment compensation clauses. There are also training and reskilling programmes paid for by employer contributions to the Human Resources Development Fund.

Why is it then that the retrenched often have to fight to obtain compensation from their employers? The government should instead work to strengthen the laws and programmes to help those who are retrenched or take up voluntary separation schemes. 

It should focus on improving workers’ accessibility to compensation and retraining programmes that will make them marketable in the event they are laid off.