The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 ("Act") was passed by the Dewan Negara on 11 August 2022. On 28 March 2023, several provisions of the Act came into effect, and it is anticipated that the rest of the Act will come into effect in stages.
This is a positive development to be lauded, considering that it is the first to many steps in having an anti-sexual harassment legislation in Malaysia, to increase the prevention and awareness of sexual harassment (in addition to the sexual harassment provisions in the Employment Act).
While the Act does not specifically address sexual harassment in the employment context, employers are encouraged to continue monitoring developments as the Act can affect the employment sphere. It is critical for employers to have robust policies and procedures in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sections 1, 2, 24, 25 and 26 of the Act have come into force. Essentially, these provisions stipulate that:
- The Secretary General of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development shall be the Administrator of Anti-Sexual Harassment.
- The functions and powers of the Administrator include to formulate policy and issue guidelines, and to promote any activity and administer any matter, relating to the prevention or awareness of sexual harassment.
- The Minister of Women, Family and Community Development is empowered to make the necessary regulations in respect of the Tribunal for Anti-Sexual Harassment.
In more detail
Please see our previous alert here for more details on the salient provisions of the Act.
The content of our previous alert (which was prepared when the Act was still at the stage of a bill and yet to be passed by the Malaysian Parliament) remains accurate, save for the provision on legal representation. Previously, the bill provided that parties to the proceedings are not allowed to be represented by an advocate and solicitor. Further readings of the bill resulted in amendments to this provision, where legal representation during the tribunal proceedings will be allowed if the matter involves complex issues of law. The Act also provides that if one party is allowed to be represented by an advocate and solicitor, the other party shall also be so entitled.
As opposed to the sexual harassment provisions under the Malaysian Employment Act 1955, which only cover workplace sexual harassment (namely, sexual harassment made (i) by an employee against another employee; (ii) by an employee against any employer; or (iii) by an employer against an employee, the Act provides the right of redress for any person who has been sexually harassed in all aspects of everyday living.
Related content: Malaysia: Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021
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