The amendment to the Employment Act 1955 to tackle discrimination at workplace should be done in a comprehensive manner and must also protect the interests of workers in the private sector.
Chairperson of the Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review Process (Macsa) Azril Mohd Amin said this was because the ban on women wearing headscarves was not the only issue of denial of rights and discrimination at workplace.
“In drafting the amendment to the Employment Act 1955, the (Human Resources) ministry should address the issue the discrimination at workplace in a holistic and comprehensive manner, by including the rights of pregnant women, as well as the workers’ rights to religion and to practice their religion,” he said in a statement here today.
Yesterday, Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem (photo) was reported as saying that the ministry, together with other ministries and related agencies, were in the midst of finalising the proposed draft of the amendment to the Act, following the ban on women wearing headscarves to be frontliners in the hotel industry recently.
On the termination of service of a pregnant Air Asia employee, Azril said the contractual relationship between the employee and her employer should not be an excuse to deny the rights of workers because the right to religion and to not be wrongly discriminated, was not a trivial matter for anyone.
In that case, however, the court ruled that the protection of human rights guaranteed in the Federal Constitution (including the prohibition of discrimination against women) did not apply to private employers, as the relationship between the employer and its employees was based solely on the contractual relationship, he said.
"It should be included in the amendment a provision prohibiting any employment contract to expressively disallow female employees from wearing headscarves or getting pregnant,” he stressed.
Besides, he said all workers and non-governmental organisations directly affected by such issues should be involved in the drafting of the amendment to the Act so that the stakeholders could give their opinions before the amendment is finalised.