Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Family Friendly Policies in Malaysia: Where Are We?

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Family Friendly Policies in Malaysia: Where Are We?

Article excerpt


The phrase "family friendly policy" (FFP) has increasingly become a popular issue of discussion and of particular interest especially among female employees. Flexible work arrangements such as flexi time, job sharing, work sharing, home working, term time, variable working hours, annualized hours, compressed working week, part time work, teleworking and voluntary reduced hours have been widely practiced in developed countries for several decades.

In the early 1970s, Malaysia's industrialization policy shifted from an import-oriented industrialization (IOI) to an export-oriented industrialization (EOI) which saw an increase in foreign owned multinational labour intensive electrical and electronics industries. This structural change led to an increase in women's participation in the labour force. Official statistics show that women's participation increased from a mere 30% in 1970 to 47.3% by 2008.

However, a recent UNESCAP report showed that Malaysian women were still underrepresented in the job market. In another UNDP study (2007), some immediate measures which were recommended to increase women into paid labour in Malaysia were better family friendly policies, such as reforms to maternity benefits and child care arrangements as well as flexible time and working arrangements. Noticing the importance for workplace reform, the Malaysian Women's Summit in 2007 and 2008 highlighted the urgent need for more family friendly policies at the work place such as flexible working arrangements and child care facilities. The Malaysian government in its endeavour to encourage more women to participate in paid work, has started staggered starting times in the government departments. In the private sector, FFPs have been implemented but it is more evident in foreign owned multinational corporations, educational institutions and a few small firms.

While many studies have shown that this non-conventional mode of employment can benefit employers and employees (See for example Mccann, 2004; Hill, Martinson et. al. 2004, Warne & Holland, 1999), this mode of employment is still very new and not very common in Malaysia. According to Cox (1997) the participation of women in mainstream economics is evidenced by the demand for domestic help to do household task. Nevertheless, the pattern of women and male participation can vary according to cultural differences across the globe (Jones 1998).

This study which is based on a primary survey, first tries to assess how family friendly are some of the work places in Malaysia. The more common modes of family friendly policies are identified based on focus group discussion. Family friendly policies can be in the form of workplace flexibility or work time flexibility. This study however, concentrates more on family friendly policies in terms of work time flexibility as this many employees are interested in this form of FFP. It further sets out to investigate how interested are the employees with regards to some of the modes of family friendly policies offered by the employers. Finally, the paper concludes with discussions on possible challenges faced by the employer and implications and benefits the employees get from a more family friendly workplace.


Studies have shown that an organization which values its employees and recognizes the importance of work life balance stands to win in terms of staff morale and commitment (Nadeem & Hendry, 2003; Liddicott, 2003). FFPs such as flexi time if used with quality practices at the work place can actually become the core of human resource management and lead to good work performance and higher productivity (de Menezes, L.M. & Wood, S. (2006); Irene Hau S.C & Irene Chew K.H. (2006)). As argued by Liechty & Anderson (2007), FFPs are beneficial for both employers and employees and now highly valued by parents who have their own children working under some working arrangements. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.