KUALA LUMPUR: The minimum wage order will be reviewed at least once every two years.
Deputy Human Resources minister Datuk Seri Ismail Muttalib said the move is in accordance with the National Wages Consultative Council Act 2011 (Act 732), where the review will be conducted by the council (MPGN).
He said the minimum wage order review will be implemented next year.
"The government conducted the minimum wage order review in 2012. After careful consideration by the MPGN, the government agreed to increase the minimum wage from RM900 monthly in the peninsula to RM1,000 monthly; and from RM800 monthly in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan to RM920 starting July 1, 2016.
"The next review will be done next year," he said in reply to a question from Datuk Hasbullah bin Osman (BN-Gerik) at the Dewan Rakyat, today.
When asked if the government can set a specific amount of minimum wage to commensurate with the cost of living, Ismail explained that since the cost of living is always changing, there is no definite way to set the minimum wage.
"I can't tell the specific number, even the prime minister can't tell you that. We have to look at the national market, which is why we have the National Wage Consultative Council and the Labour Department (JTK).
"They will convene with employers and the experts once every two years to review the minimum wage, to see whether or not the current minimum wage is still relevant.
"Besides, we can't simply set a minimum wage. There are criteria to be considered such as the current state of the economy and whether the employers can afford to pay such amount," he told the New Straits Times later when contacted.
To a supplementary question from Datuk Abdullah Sani (PKR-Kuala Langat) on the number of employers who refused to adhere to the minimum wage order, Ismail said 317 employers have been charged in court for failing to follow the law.
He said, the actions were taken by his ministry through the Labour Department (JTK).
"Out of the 317, 195 cases have been resolved. It involves 607 local employees and 180 foreign workers. JTK will continue to monitor employers to ensure the implementation of minimum wage is adhered to."
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress welcomed the move and is focused to discuss with the National Wages Consultative Council (NWCC) to create a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
Its president Abdul Halim Mansor said the reviewing of the minimum wage order is in accordance with the act.
“MTUC is all out for the minimum wages to be reviewed once every two years; however the employer may feel that it is unnecessary.
“What we would do is have follow up discussions with NWCC and take into account all the considerations by our members and partners.
“We will not demand something which cannot be achieved or inadequate towards the market, but one which ensures that the demand is in line with the employees’ productivity,” said Halim.
He also said that the reviewing of minimum wage never had a political influence as it had always been under the NWCC.
He said despite promises by the oppositions to increase the minimum wages if they come into power, this move has nothing to do with politics but only for the betterment of the people.
Halim also added that MTUC would also propose to NWCC to table the Cost of Living Allowances since the price of goods had increased tremendously.