I run a medium size law firm. Starting with just one staff, it gradually grew to almost forty staff.
The implementation of a Minimum Wage policy and the slide in business environment, wage pressure in the last two years, GST and also generally poor work ethics ranging from “sakit”, “emergency”, “anak makcik accident”, “datuk meninggal (kali kelima)l, “half-day”, “cuti bersalin (beranak tiga kali dalam empat tahun”, “sakit sehari sebelum atau selepas cuti umum” (I believe most employers suffer from these problems too), left me with no alternative but to reorganise my firm.
First to go were almost ten para-legals and no less than five lawyers.
Additionally, since last year, I completely removed some of the benefits the staff once enjoyed, the RM200 medical fees reimbursement(s), staff group insurance, annual overseas holidays, and even the fully paid umrah trip for long serving staff. Even where once staff were “assured” a one month bonus, they now receive at most a half month bonus (or even lesser for the under performing). All these are no longer possible because of the ever increasing financial stress running a business.
In contrast, I have since this year set up a back-room/legal support office in Batam (Indonesia).
My Indonesian office now does all the drafting of the legal notices and cause papers (all instructions are emailed from my office in Malaysia to Batam) and have it emailed to my law office. All my staff in Malaysia need to do is to check and file the documents and attend court.
By reorganising my law practice, I am not only taking advantage of the slightly lower saving in salary (In Batam, Gaji Upah Minimum is almost RM1,000.00), but also gain from the work ethics and attitude of Indonesians employees who value their jobs much better compared to Malaysians.
I no longer need to tolerate, the Monday and Friday “sakit- tak dapat datang kerja” syndrome, the emergency leave, coming in late, half day, grandfather dying for the fifth time and the “sakit satu hari sebelum/selepas cuti umum” and other filmsy reasons. I no longer need to watch my staff, who stroll in at 9.05 and start actual work 15 minutes later. I no longer need to watch some of my staff who at 1.30pm do not do the solat, but instead do their solat after 2pm and again only starting work some 20 minutes later.
My Indonesian staff by contrast are on time for work, hardly ever are on leave and work diligently knowing if they lose their job, it is not easy to get another. I no longer suffer from the perennial problems an employer in Malaysia suffers from. My Indonesian staff are so respectful and polite. Of cause, there is not much savings salary wise, but I have the advantage of not having to pay Sosco and EPF. (However, I have implemented a policy of mandatory saving plan, akin to EPF) Bonus is paid on merit, and my Indonesian staff work hard to deserve an annual bonus.
I believe I have made a right move and in an era of borderless world and Internet era, this move of mine has been made possible. So, if this arrangement continues to work well, I may really consider downsizing my office in Malaysia.