Glaring loophole creates licence to discriminate

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Sisters in Islam (SIS) is concerned that anti-discrimination provisions to protect job seekers on the grounds of gender, religion, race, disability, language, marital status and pregnancy would not be included as an amendment to the Employment Act 1955.

According to the World Bank at the launch of the 12th Malaysia Plan in July this year, Malaysia needs to continue its gross national income (GNI) per capita growth at a range of 4%-4.5% in order to achieve its aspirations to become a high-income nation by 2024.

A Malaysia that aims to create a vibrant and dynamic economy must wake up to realise the shared prosperity to be gained in leaving no one behind. In doing so, the employment market must move from being discriminatory to one that finds value in the participation and contribution from all walks of life.

Discrimination and conditions placed against women who choose to wear the headscarf, particularly by the hospitality industry, for example, is unacceptable and needs to stop.

The absence of anti-discrimination provisions shifts the power dynamics of the pre-employment stage to unfairly favour the whims of the employer. Without these provisions included in the pre-employment stage, thousands of job seekers are left vulnerable at the mercy of employers who may abuse this licence to discriminate.

We believe that fundamentally, pre-employment falls well within the jurisdiction of the Employment Act and therefore should be an essential part of the amendments. Job seekers must be given the right and protection necessary to call out employers who create obstacles against inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

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We urge the Ministry of Human Resource to prioritise the bigger picture of how anti-discrimination provisions throughout the entire employment of a job seeker, including their pre-employment, will contribute to greater inclusivity, diversity and dynamism of the Malaysian economy as a whole.

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