New Employment Act amendments may mean law pupils are entitled to minimum wage

A much-discussed issue in Malaysian legal circles for some time now has been the remuneration of pupils in the legal industry.

Many law graduates are grossly underpaid during their compulsory 9-month pupillage period, with reports of monthly pay as low as RM500. This is well below the current monthly minimum wage in Malaysia, which is RM1,100/1,200. However, pupils fall outside the scope of the Minimum Wages Order, as they are not “employees” under the existing Employment Act (EA).

Proposed amendments to the EA may change this position, and mean that pupils will be entitled to the national minimum wage.

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Insights from two months of webinars

There have been a few very noticeable changes in the Malaysian legal industry in 2020. Most of these are attributable to COVID-19 and the resultant restrictions under the Movement Control Order (MCO) since 18 March 2020, and subsequent on-going Conditional MCO.

One significant development was the proliferation of webinars. By the middle of April, it seemed like there was at least one webinar a day to tune into, depending on your area of interest. Almost all of these were free, with some requiring prior registration. In recent weeks we have seen the shift to paid webinars, and webinars will very likely be a mainstay for the foreseeable future. It is looking increasingly unlikely that big conferences will be possible for the rest of the year.

To gain some insights into the rise in popularity of webinars, particularly in the legal industry, there is probably no better person to hear from than Richard Wee. He was one of the first movers who promoted and hosted webinars during the MCO — both in collaboration with Brickfields Asia College (BAC), and through his own firm, Richard Wee Chambers (RWC). Richard has since hosted more than 20 webinars, covering a broad range of topics.

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