PETALING JAYA: Employees are looking forward to a better work-life balance and spending more time with the family come January next year when amendments to the Employment Act 1955 are enforced.

The amended law will enable flexible working arrangements, a reduction in working hours from 48 to 45, 60 days of hospitalisation leave per year in addition to non-hospitalisation sick leave, and an increase in maternity and paternity leave, among others.

Marketing manager Ng Lengjie, 37, who is expecting a second child, said the work-from-home (WFH) policy is really what a working mother like her welcomes.

“As a parent, it’s not easy to juggle family and a career, but with the flexibility afforded, I can be more productive.

“If there’s anything the movement control order has taught us, it is that we can work efficiently everywhere,” she said.

She also spoke about her friends who work in banks and big companies that have an employee-oriented policy.

“They have longer maternity breaks and allowed to WFH if needed. They also enjoy flexi hours and their own daycare centre, open to the staff’s children at a good rate,” she added.

Senior master data specialist Thiffany Martin, 28, supports honour-based sick leave, especially when employees need to quarantine themselves.

The policy allows employees to take leave without getting a medical certificate (MC) if an employee is down with Covid-19, for example. Those who are asymptomatic will like to be given the opportunity of working remotely.

“I’m sure employees will appreciate being provided the option of honour-based sick leave,” she said.

A study by Kisi, the cloud-based access control specialist, identified Dubai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur as the three places where people are most overworked.

The study was aimed at addressing how working and living conditions have shifted in global cities during the pandemic, and now in the context of rising inflation.

Insurance underwriter Ahmad Hafiq Ashraf, 32, said if the nature of the business allows it, working parents should not be tied to a rigid nine-to-five job.

“This means that there’ll be no fixed hours to be in the office. You can come in anytime and leave anytime. This way, an employee will be able to achieve work-life balance.

“But of course, this will require a great attitude, work ethic and a great level of trust between the companies and their employees so that both interests will be protected.”

Ahmad Hafiq also said that in some parts of Europe, the employer is not permitted to have business meetings or any internal discussions with employees after working hours.

“This will give the employees more time for their non-work activities,” he said.

He also agrees that companies should promote physical and mental wellness.

Stockbroker Fintan Nicholas, 52, said companies should organise frequent leisure activities that involve both the families of the employer and staff.

A look at other countries found that in Finland, companies offering a flexible approach has been part of its working culture for over two decades. Under the Working Hours Act, employees have the freedom of changing their daily hours at their workplace by starting or ending up to three hours earlier or later.

In Iceland, employees are legally entitled to a minimum of two days of paid sick leave for each month they work. The more time an employee spends working for the same employer, the more sick leave days they are entitled to.

After a six-week experiment revealed that productivity had increased by 20%, New Zealand established the four-day week a few years ago, with employees drawing the same pay for working fewer days.