What To Do If Your Employers Only Pay You Half Of Your Salary?

It's not the end of the road.

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What To Do If Your Employers Only Pay You Half Of Your Salary?
Image: RL Brown Wealth Management
By now, everyone who follows the news will be aware of the miserable fate that befell True Fitness Malaysia and its staff.

Here's a brief recap: On June 10, True Fitness Malaysia caught its members off guard when they announced that they will be ceasing their operations with immediate effect because the business was not financially viable.

The announcement was reportedly so sudden, even their own staff did not receive prior notice about their company’s closure.

But that's not the end of the story though. A few days after the announcement, its staff revealed that they have not gotten their salaries from True Fitness Malaysia, with some claiming that they were not paid since the beginning of the year.

When the group did finally pay up, the staff reportedly only received a salary of nine days, for working from 1 June to 9 June.

Disgruntled staff at a protest.

So here's the question: What if the same thing happens to you?

Your company, the one you spent years working hard for and staying loyal to, chooses to abandon you and closes down suddenly, leaving you helpless.

You find yourself suddenly unemployed and the future seems scary, more so when your former company decides to only pay you half of your salary or none at all. 

Clueless about what to do next? 

Rojak Daily spoke to Subang Jaya Labour Department Deputy Director Maspupah Bajuri to learn what you can do if you're stuck in a situation like that:

1.    What to do first?
Go to the labour department immediately, or as soon as you can. We need to know what is going on and the soonest that happens, the better. Rightfully, the employers are supposed to inform the labour department if they are going to close down their business or retrench their staff, through a termination of employment form (Borang PK). When the employers do not do these, the problem starts and employees suffer.

2.    What are the documents to bring along?
Bring your offer letter, your last pay slips, your IC and any other related documents.

3.    What happens next?
Our officers will help the employees to file cases against their employers. When the cases have been filed, we will set a mention date for both parties to attend a hearing. The date is usually 14 days from the date of the case filing.

4.    How long does it take for the employee to get his claims?
Usually, if all goes well, we will instruct the employer to pay any outstanding amount due to the employee within 14 days. These include payment for unutilised annual leave, as stipulated under the Employment Act 1955.

5.    What will happen if the employer does not turn up?
Then, we will file a case in the Labour Court and it will be a court case from then on.

6.    Any advice to employees?
Don’t wait until your company closes down to do something. Once you suspect something is amiss, lodge a complaint with us. The more you wait, the more difficult it will be for us to find a solution. Do something fast. The problem could be as simple as unpaid overtime money. Come tell us and we will investigate. 
The Powers of the Labour Department
Under Section 69 (1) of the Employment Act 1955, the department may inquire into and decide any dispute between an employee and his employer in respect of wages or any other payments in cash due to such employee under:

(a) any term of the contract of service between such employee and his employer
(b) any of the provisions of this Act or any subsidiary legislation made thereunder
(c) the provisions of the Wages Councils Act 1947 [Act 195] or any order made thereunder, and, in pursuance of such decision, may make an order in the prescribed form for the payment by the employer of such sum of money as he deems just without limitation of the amount thereof.

When all else fails...

It's time to lawyer up!

As an affected employee, you also can also seek legal assistance to help you out if such a situation befalls you.

Alex Anton Netto, a civil and criminal litigator, who has more than 10 years of experience dealing with such cases, tells us exactly how:

1.    What sort of legal aid can the employee seek?
In situations like this, an employee in Malaysia has the option of going to the labour office or the ministry of Human Resource. However, if the company has shut down and there is no way of reaching the employer, the labour office is restricted. This is where the employee can seek legal aid, to file a suit and fight for his case.

2.    What lawsuit are we looking at?
A general civil suit to claim for compensation. It will be filed in the civil court. 

3.    How can the employees seek legal aid?
Affected employees can approach the Malaysian Bar Council at Lebuh Pasar, where the staff will help them connect with a suitable lawyer. If the Bar Council is too far for them, we have state bar committees in every state which also offer similar aids. Contact numbers and addresses of the state bar committees are all readily available online.

4.    Any words of advice?
We always advice employees who have been wronged to lodge a police report first. It is everyone’s right to lodge a police report. Also, if you seek legal assistance, there will be legal fees involved. If you cannot afford it, stick with the Labour Department first. They are there to help.

There you have it. These are some of the things you need to take note of if - touch wood! - your employers leave you high and dry. As mentioned above, read up on your rights as an employee and if you suspect something is amiss, act quickly.

Let's pray that you'll never have to refer to this article.

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