Repeat offenders who hire children aged below 15 can now be jailed up to five years, following amendment to the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966 (Act 350). (NSTP Archive)

KUALA LUMPUR: Repeat offenders who hire children aged below 15 can now be jailed up to five years, following amendment to the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966 (Act 350).

The maximum five-year custodial sentence was among amendments to the Act, with the maximum fine increased to RM50,000, and repeat offenders face maximum fine of RM100,000.

The Bill to amend the Act was passed unanimously at the Dewan Rakyat today after it was debated by 19 members of Parliament and had three readings.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said that the Act was amended to protect children and young persons from being exploited and discriminatedagainst by certain quarters.

“The jail term is increased from maximum one year to not exceeding two years (for first offenders), and repeat offenders face increased jail sentence from maximum three years to five years.

“However, Act 350 is only applicable in Peninsular Malaysia and enforced by the Peninsular Malaysia Human Resource Department.

“For Sabah and Sarawak, the provision of Act 350 is provided under the Labour Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 67) and Labour Ordinance (Sarawak Cap. 76) which is enforced by the Sabah Human Resources Department and Sarawak Human Resources Department respectively,” he said.

Kulasegaran noted that the amendment to the Act also provides that children and young persons were not allowed to be involved in dangerous work such as handling machinery, jobs that expose them to dangerous chemicals, extreme temperatures, and loud noises.

He said that the amended Act also states that children aged 15 but below 18 are categorised as young persons.

“Employers are also barred from employing children and young persons in the selling of alcohol, jobs related to gambling and lottery, massage and reflexology service, prostitution or as social escorts,” he said.