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Differences Between the Employment Act and the Industrial Relations Act

Definition of "employee" under Employment Act:

1. Any person, irrespective of his occupation, who has entered into a contract of service with an employer under which such person's wages do not exceed one thousand five hundred ringgit a month.(which means not more than RM1500.00)

2. Any person who, irrespective of the amount of wages he earns in a month (which means any amount), has entered into a contract of service with an employer in pursuance of which:

(1) he is engaged in manual labour including such labour as an artisan or apprentice;

(2) he is engaged in the operation or maintenance of any mechanically propelled vehicle operated for the transport of passengers or goods or for reward or for commercial purposes;

(3) he supervises or oversees other employees engaged in manual labour employed by the same employer in and throughout the performance of their work;

Definition of "workman" under Industrial Relations Act:

“workman” means any person, including an apprentice, employed by an employer under a contract of employment to work for hire or reward and for the purposes of any proceedings in relation to a trade dispute includes any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched in connection with or as a consequence of that dispute or whose dismissal, discharge or retrenchment has led to that dispute.

(Not limited by amount of wages)

From the above, the Employment Act defines "employee" based on amount of wages and on the type of occupation of the employee.

Whereas under the Industrial Relations Act, the word "workman" is used. "Workman" simply means any person employed under a contract of employment without being restricted to the amount of wages or the type of occupation.

Beside the difference in definition, the two Acts also provide different benefits to workers. The Employment Act is more concerned with monetary benefits (e.g. annual leave with pay, sick leave with pay, maternity allowance, overtime and so on). The Act is of compelling nature in that failure to provide any of those benefits is an offence for which an employer can be prosecuted in court.

The Industrial Relations Act on the other hand is more of persuasive nature in that industrial problems are solved as far as possible through negotiation and conciliation.