If you’ve ever seen a comic or meme about office life, it usually portrays office employees as powerless peons earning money for a cold, uncaring corporate machine. There is a basis to this, however, as the early days of the industrial revolution saw many business owners taking advantage of workers through unreasonable working hours, underpayment, or simply being fired for no reason at all.
But today, most countries have enacted laws to protect employees from exploitation, and Malaysia is no different. We introduced the Employment Act in 1955 to provide a list of guidelines that employers must follow to provide their employees with basic rights and care. While companies must follow the minimum requirements in the Employment Act 1955, they can also create company policies that exceed these requirements.
One such company is Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or better known as HPE.
While we normally associate Hewlett-Packard with consumer electronic products like laptops and printers, HPE is actually a separate company that provides IT solutions like servers, networking, and other back end services that ensures your computer is able to access websites, cloud services, and cat videos on the internet. HPE has been putting a lot of focus on the wellbeing and growth of their employees, many of which go beyond the minimum requirements.
So here’s how you can tell if your employer is doing more than required by the law.
1. Giving you MORE than 8 days of annual leave
Here’s the minimum number of annual leave days your employer needs to give you: 8
This is according to Section 60E(1) of the Employment Act 1955, which states (in part):
However, these 8 days are the minimum only if you’ve been working with the company for less than two years…you actually get more leave days the longer you stay with the company as outlined in Section 60E(1):
HPE provides a minimum of 15 days of annual leave for their employees. The number of leaves increase the longer you stay with the company. Now if taking leave isn’t your thing, some companies allow employees to carry forward the remaining days or receive cash compensation for the unclaimed days—but this would solely depend on the company policy.
HPE’s policy allows employees to carry forward their remaining leaves to the next year. But there’s a limit to the leaves carried forward. Employees can only carry forward a total of 15 days of their annual leave, to the next year.
And here’s the best thing about annual leaves: You can actually take them at any time, for any reason, and you’ll not have your salary deducted. However, a 2011 survey indicated that 65% of Malaysians don’t use up all of their leave days.
It is also found that this trend is shifting in younger employees, with Gen-Y employees more willing to take personal leave time or go on ad-hoc holidays; and Gen-Z is no different – if anything, annual leave is even more important to them.
2. Giving MORE than 60 days of maternity leave (or to FATHERS)
By law – specifically Part IX of the Employment Act – every female employee is entitled to at least 60 consecutive days of maternity leave; but this only applies if she has been with the company for at least 90 days, and within 4 months leading up to her confinement period (the period where a new mother rests indoors after giving birth). And like annual leave, maternity leave also paid in the form a maternity allowance, which is her regular monthly salary.
However, there is no legal requirement for new fathers to receive paternity leave. This means that it’s up to companies to decide on paternity leave policies… or not at all.
HPE provides both maternity and paternity leave to its employees. New mothers and fathers are provided up to 26 weeks (or 182 days) of paid leave, which:
- Can be taken at any time, following birth or adoption
- Can be taken continuously, or separated to 13 weeks each (if both parents are employees of HPE)
- Still allows the employee to receive their regular base pay (a.k.a paid leave)
- Applies to both full-time AND part-time employees
If you’re planning to be a dad but not an HPE employee, there’s some good news on the horizon – The Human Resource Ministry recently made a proposal for male private sector employees to be given paternity leave…for 3 days.
3. Starting ‘wellness programs’ for employees
As we mentioned earlier, it is not illegal for companies to have their own special policies. But due to the rise in health issues among employees, some companies adapted fitness/wellness programs to help overcome unhealthy lifestyles among employees.
There’s little doubt that working in an office can lead to unhealthy lifestyles not just from stuff like bad eating habits or a lack of physical activity but, in some extreme cases, to using alcohol and drugs to cope with stress. This concern led to the Ministry of Human Resource issuing a Guideline on Dealing with Alcohol and Drug Abuse although, as the title says, it’s a guideline for companies to implement into their existing policies rather than required by law.
Realizing the hazard caused by unhealthy lifestyles, and made certain initiatives for the well-being of their employees. HPE introduced the Wellness Fridays program, to focus on the mental and physical health of employees. Wellness Fridays are basically half days—HPE employees get to leave work 3 hours early on one Friday each month. This is to encourage employees to use the remaining time of the day to do something that improves their overall health. For some of us, this could include going to the gym or spending time with family and friends.
The best part? It’s still considered a full workday, so it doesn’t affect your salary or annual leave.
4. Hospitalisation benefits and sick leaves
Even the best employees fall sick from time to time. With an MC from your panel clinic, you may be entitled to a certain number of paid sick leaves depending on how long you’ve been working for the company. Based on the Employment Act, you’re entitled to sick leave if you’ve been:
If you need to be hospitalised, you’re entitled to 60 days of paid sick leave in total per calendar year. But don’t forget to inform your employer that you won’t be showing up at work.
Now if you’ve ever had surgery or needed to be admitted in a hospital, you’d know all about the additional expense that can be incurred from the cost of medications alone.
Most companies including AskLegal provides employees with a medical card—which gives us free medical treatment at a panel clinic (yay us!). Now this should not be confused with medical insurance, which is another type of benefit that some companies provide.
At HPE, they introduced the myChoice Flexible Program. The program comprises of 13 benefits for employees, and it includes a medical program and Total Permanent Disability program (TPD) which is a life protection plan that covers employees.
So if you work for a company that loves you
in, you’d never have to worry about expensive medical bills...or not being able to work due to health issues.
5. Giving TRAINING to employees
If you’re new to a company, there’s a chance you’re going to start off with a training session or orientation. This isn’t a legal obligation but simply because the company needs to show you the basics on how to get work done.
But this isn’t the kind of training we’re referring to. What we’re referring to is the additional training to improve your skills or help you develop new ones. In fact, a survey conducted by JobStreet revealed that, apart from benefits and incentives, Malaysian employees also prioritised career development opportunities.
One thing to note is that Malaysian law doesn’t make it an obligation for companies to train or advance their staff, unless it’s related to safety or other compliance matters. In fact, the Employment Act only covers Apprenticeships, where an apprentice is employed to be specifically trained in a certain skill or field for at least two years. This is different from internships, where the training is more generalized and for a much shorter time.
HPE has a program for fresh grads that’s kinda like a middle ground between an apprenticeship and internship. The HPE Graduate Program lasts for a year, and is structured in a way that allows fresh grad employees to be directly involved with two projects within HPE. For instance, if you applied to be part of the Strategy and Planning team, your first project will be on strategy and planning, and your second project will be on management. Each project will last for 6 months, with a mentor and buddy system to guide you through the professional and social sides of the job.
HPE also has a networking program for young employees called the...well… Young Employees Network. It basically allows young employees from different sectors within HPE to network and share knowledge not just among themselves, but with other HPE employees around the world, while also breaking down organizational barriers between higher management and new employees. You can read more about this here.
The law sets a minimum standard, but companies can go beyond
If you really think about it, you probably spend more time at work than anything else. As younger generations are placing more importance on work-life balance and additional benefits a job can offer, companies are beginning to take notice and adapt.
HPE is just one example of how companies can go the extra mile in this regard, so if you’re out looking for a job, perhaps it’s a good idea to ask if the company provides the additional perks you’re looking for. But if the additional stuff isn’t important to you, then you should at least be aware of the bare minimum that your future employee must provide you.
After all, the backbone of any organization are its employees.