Shorter work week will harm retail sector, MRA says

The policy will strain the workers shortage situation even more as retailers need to employ more workers as backup

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE 

THE Malaysian Retail Association (MRA) said introducing a four-and-a-half day working week would harm the retail industry.

MRA deputy president Law Boon Eng said this policy would strain the workers shortage situation even more as retailers would need to employ more workers to cover the same business hours.

“If you look at our Employment Act, the maximum working hours is eight so if you implement the four-day working week, each employee is only working 42 hours or 48 hours (per week).

“Of course, it will benefit business, but you cannot benefit from business when you have nobody working,” he said at a press conference today.

MRA president Datuk Andrew Lim Tat Keong said retailers need to increase productivity per hour if the four-and-a-half-day working week is implemented.

He said industries that are highly automated will benefit from the new work week if implemented.

Unfortunately, he said, this was not applicable to the service and commodities industry which is reliant on human labour.

“The four-day week was implemented in the UK back in the 70s.  Again, in response to an economic crisis.

“It was labour strikes, and all those disruptions in that economy that actually brought down the economic performance of the UK,” Lim said.

MRA deputy president Shafie Shamsuddin felt that the idea of a four-and-a-half-day working week is interesting but challenging for retailers.

“Even if you were to implement a two-and-a-half-day weekend, the demand will still be on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

The Malaysian Reserve reported yesterday that the Johor state government is looking at introducing a two-and-a-half-day weekend.

Friday will be a half-day followed by Saturday and Sunday to enable Muslims to prepare for Friday prayers.

However, this is possible if there will be additional working hour from Monday to Thursday.

Other countries around the world which are practicing the three-day-weekend approach are Belgium, Iceland, Scotland, Spain, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.