Work two jobs? Think again, Ahmad Maslan

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Ahmad Maslan - Photograph: The Malaysian Insider

The deputy minister should instead find ways to tackle the rising cost of living instead of suggesting that Malaysians take on two jobs to overcome the problem, writes David Yeoh.

Recently, the deputy minister for international trade and industry called on Malaysians to take on two jobs to overcome the high cost of living in Malaysia.

No doubt, this would help to ease the financial burden of the people, but think again of the consequences in terms of the labour laws covering employment contracts for workers in the public and private sectors as well as the health implications.

In the private sector, employers generally do not allow their workers to work with more than one employer unless permission from the employer is obtained. If the employer discovers staff working in a second job, disciplinary action could be taken against the employee, which normally could result in termination of employment.

The employee might thus lose the first job on the grounds that he or she would not be able to focus on the first job and therefore, productivity would decline. Even if the second job had no direct conflict of interest with the first job, action could still be taken by the employer.

Therefore, under normal circumstances, an employee must apply for permission from the employer before taking up a second job, and this could sometimes be rejected by the employer concerned.

Moreover, an employee is not allowed to work more than 12 hours (including overtime) under labour laws. So if the employee works in two places or holds two jobs, this would add up to 16 hours at a minimum (not including travel time) and obviously violate labour laws.

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The minister’s suggestion of taking up two jobs is impractical and ignorant as it could lead to depression and anxiety among workers and thus affect the social life of the Rakyat in the long run.

Ultimately, an employee who works more than 12 hours a day would be likely to double the risk of developing depression compared with those who only work eight hours or less. This would eventually lead to health problems and affect personal and family life.

A number of factors might explain the increase in risk: people who work longer hours often sleep less, exercise less and experience more stress. Eventually, working long hours could heighten the risk of depression.

The deputy minister should instead find ways to tackle the rising cost of living instead of suggesting that Malaysians take on two jobs to overcome the problem. He should also take into consideration the views of various non-governmental organisations as well industry before coming up with solutions to help the Rakyat rather than burdening them.

David Yeoh Beng Tatt is an Aliran member based in Penang.

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