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Should Friday be declared a rest day in Malaysia?

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Shahidan Kassim, a minister in Prime Minister’s Department is of the opinion that Friday prayers should not be the reason to declare that day a rest day.

According to Free Malaysia Today, he was replying to Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang), who said she had received complaints that many Muslims could not reach their office by 2.30pm due to traffic congestion after Friday prayers.

Shahidan gave the example of Perlis – a state which had initially declared Friday as a rest day, later changing it to Sunday.

“Muslims are allowed to carry out Friday prayers at many nearby places. For instance, there is no mosque in PWTC, but the surau is turned into a mosque on Fridays,” he pointed out.

At present, only Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu have opted to declare Friday as a rest day, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Speaking to Human Resources regarding the issue, an HR professional based in Malaysia said: “Fortunately due to our location and make up of our workforce we are not adversely effected by the Friday prayer traffic congestion in relation to our business execution.”

The HR professional further added that if Friday was to be declared a rest day, it could lead to a loss of business on the international market – especially in the industries like Shared Services.

Human Resources also spoke to Farid Basir, chief human capital officer at at Bank Kerjasama Rakyat who said: “Our bank has a mosque in our Headquarter, so we don’t face a problem with with employees being back in office at 2.30pm.”

Six-hour workday

In addition to the issue of declaring Friday as a reat day, Siti Zailah had also questioned whether the government would implement the proposed six-hour workday and flexible working hours, especially for married female civil servants.

In reply to that, Shahidan pointed out that flexi hours had already been implemented by the government. Staff are currently able to choose between three work hour arrangements – from 7.30am to 4pm, 8am to 5pm or 8.30am to 5.30pm.

At the same time, he clarified that the government currently has no plans to implement the six-hour workday proposed by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

He pointed out that other developed countries like Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, America and Britain had eight-hour workdays while workers in Singapore work 9.5 hours a day, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Previously, MTUC had asked for the country to move to a six-hour workday following the introduction of the policy in Sweden, citing that the change in working hours was crucial for employees’ health in Malaysia.

Speaking to Human Resources regarding the issue, an HR professional based in Malaysia is supportive of the six-hour work day from a work-life balance perspective.

“As things like this already exist in some parts of Europe it is clearly feasible but it could drive in additional cost to businesses as they would most likely have to hire more staff to manage workloads. If business need to hire more people that will inevitably raise the price of goods and services,” the HR professional said.

“I have to say, a shorter work day doesn’t necessarily mean less productivity as if you look at the European countries already doing this some of the report increased productivity and therefore no need to hire additional resources,” the professional added.

Photo / 123RF

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