Case Update: Court of Appeal considers whether an employer can dismiss an employee for insubordination

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In this Case Update series, I share summaries of recent Malaysian court decisions to explore the current approach taken by the courts when deciding on employment-related issues. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking here, including case updates on other legal areas by TheMalaysianLawyer co-founder Lee Shih.

Insubordination is where an employee wilfully disobeys or ignores an employer’s legitimate instructions. Malaysia’s Industrial Court has established via many previous decisions that insubordination is capable of being a serious misconduct which is sufficient to destroy the employment relationship and justify a dismissal.

However, as is the case for employee misconduct in general, not all instances of insubordination will amount to just cause for an employer to dismiss an employee. The Court of Appeal considered this issue in Ngiam Geok Mooi v. Pacific World Destination East Sdn Bhd [2016] 6 CLJ 395.

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Case Update: High Court rules entitlement to back wages limited to unexpired duration of fixed-term contract

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In this Case Update series, I share summaries of recent Malaysian court decisions to explore the current approach taken by the courts when deciding on employment-related issues. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking here, including case updates on other legal areas by TheMalaysianLawyer co-founder Lee Shih.

The issue of calculating back wages due to an unfairly dismissed employee has become fairly settled, at least when it comes to the upper limit of the award. The Second Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act states:

1. In the event that backwages are to be given, such backwages shall not exceed 24 months’ backwages from the date of dismissal based on the last-drawn salary of the person who has been dismissed without just cause or excuse.

However, the recent High Court case of Malayan Banking Bhd v. Mahkamah Perusahaan Malaysia & Anor [2017] 2 CLJ 70 considered a unique scenario, where the employee was dismissed while under a probationary period as part of a fixed-term contract. The Second Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act provides the following in respect of probationers:

2. In the case of a probationer who has been dismissed without just cause or excuse, any backwages given shall not exceed 12 months’ backwages from the date of dismissal based on his last-drawn salary.

The applicant (the Employer) applied to the High Court for an order to quash the decision of the first respondent (the Industrial Court). One of the issues that the High Court had to consider in this case (which is the issue we will focus on in this case update) was whether the second respondent (the Employee) should only have been entitled to back wages for the unexpired portion of her fixed-term contract (which was 5 months and 17 days), and not the 12-month maximum provided in the Industrial Relations Act for probationers.

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Case Update: Can an employee be dismissed for misconduct off-the-job and outside office hours?

Case Updates (FB)

In this Case Update series, I share summaries of recent Malaysian court decisions to explore the current approach taken by the courts when deciding on employment-related issues. You can find all the posts in the series by clicking here, including case updates on other legal areas by TheMalaysianLawyer co-founder Lee Shih.

The general position in Malaysian employment law is that the conduct of employees outside of the office and in their personal time is not relevant to the employment relationship. However, out-of-office misconduct may in some circumstances be serious enough to justify an employer taking disciplinary action against the employee, including dismissal.

The Industrial Court recently considered this issue in Sebastian Matthias Boehme v. Siemens Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Award No. 667 of 2017). Siemens, the Employer, terminated the Employee’s services following complaints received regarding the Employee’s behaviour at a hotel bar outside of office hours.

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DLA Piper’s updated Guide to Going Global series — Malaysia content

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I’m delighted to share that the DLA Piper Guide to Going Global series has recently been updated.

This series includes the Employment practice area, and I provided the Malaysia content for this section.

The Employment guide has information on 56 jurisdictions. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world, but does not have a Malaysia office, and I am the sole Malaysian contributor in the series.

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What you need to know about the law on retrenchment of employees

the law on retrenchments
Will the last one to leave please turn off the lights?

There has been a wave of retrenchments in Malaysia, which started last year and looks to continue through 2016. Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister says that his ministry expects retrenchments to continue into 2017.

According to the Malaysian Employers’ Federation (MEF), more than 20,000 employees were retrenched in 2015 (as at September 2015). Comparatively, the figure for the entire 2014 was 10,000 employees. The MEF predicts that it will only get worse in 2016.

Although the steepest increase in retrenchment numbers are in the oil and gas industry, the banking industry has also seen several retrenchment exercises or voluntary separation schemes being implemented. The legal industry has also been affected, with many medium and big law firms either downsizing or freezing hiring.

Let’s take a quick look at the law related to retrenchments. As an employer, when can I retrench employees? Am I free to choose which employees to let go? How much do I have to pay them as severance? As an employee, what are my rights? Can I challenge a retrenchment?

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Handing employee dismissals properly under Malaysian law

04 - dismissals

In this series, we have addressed the general employment law backdrop in Malaysia, legal issues when hiring employees, and how to ensure good employee management. This post will discuss the end of the employment life cycle — the termination of the employment contract, or dismissal.

Whether an employer is sacking someone on the spot, or terminating an employee’s employment contract by serving the contractually-agreed notice period, the employer must be able to show that the dismissal or termination was with just cause or excuse.

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