More Malaysian employers rewarding staff with pay raise amid Covid-19 pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR – For more than a year, food and beverage marketing executive Muhammad Arshad Ariffin survived on a lower pay after a 25 per cent cut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But his loyalty paid off when his salary was revised following his company’s improved performance.

“After my full pay was reinstated in November, I was given an eight per cent raise, which is equivalent to about RM400 (S$129). Apparently, it’s an incentive to motivate us since the company is doing better now,” the 31-year-old told The Straits Times.

“I’m actually surprised because I know times are hard for everyone, so I didn’t expect this at all,” he said.

Tourism officer Jenny Chen, 28, also lucked out.

“This is probably not the case elsewhere but the hotel I work for revised my salary as a ‘thank you’ for staying on despite how bad things were. Although the revision is only at three per cent, I’m super happy about it,” she told ST.

Mr Arshad and Ms Chen are among Malaysians who have been rewarded amid the pandemic, as more employers are givingsalary increases to their employees this year, indicating a positive business recovery in the country.

According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Salary Survey for Executives and Non-Executives 2021, the average pay raise is more than four per cent.

Citing the 27th annual MEF Salary Survey, the federation’s president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said 65.2 per cent of companies gave salary increases either to all or certain executive employees in 2021, compared to 58.4 per cent in 2020.

Meanwhile, 66.4 per cent granted salary increases to all or certain non-executives in 2021 against 61.7 per cent in 2020.

“The average salary increase for executives in 2021 was 4.4 per cent, for the non-executives, the average salary increase in 2021 was at 4.43 per cent,” he said in a statement on Dec 7.

The survey also forecast that the average salary increase for executives in 2022 will be at 4.37 per cent, and 4.17 per cent for non-executives.

“Approximately 60 per cent of the companies determined salary increase based on the profitability or productivity level, while more than half of the companies determined the quantum of salary increase based on the market rate,” he added.

The positive growth in salary and overall business performance can be linked to the reopening of most business sectors following the high vaccination rate among the adult population in the country. To date, 78.2 per cent or over 25.5 billion adults have been fully vaccinated, while 1.3 per cent or over 411,000 have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

And despite concerns over the Omicron variant, Malaysia is seeing a boom in domestic tourism, local news site New Straits Times reported on Dec 13.

It quoted Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis as saying: “Many hotels and accommodations in Selangor and premium hotels in Langkawi, for instance, have been fully booked this month.”

The country’s daily Covid-19 cases have also dropped below the 4,000 mark, with the lowest being 3,490 on Dec 12. Malaysia recorded its highest daily tally of 24,599 cases on Aug 26.

Food packaging supplier Khairi Othman told ST: “As an employer, I feel like it’s up to me to keep the morale up. It hasn’t been an easy year for everyone so it’s only fair to reward those who are loyal and hardworking, especially when the company is showing signs of recovery and growth. Without my staff, I doubt my company would still exist.”

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