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Employers seek delay in garment pay reform

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Industry representatives agree that fortnightly payments would help to protect workers. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Plans to pay garment workers twice a month will be difficult for employers to implement, industry representatives have warned.
The Labor Ministry is amending laws so companies will be required to pay staff twice a month, in a bid to protect workers from being abandoned by employers who owe them wages.
But the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia is asking the ministry to give it a grace period before the law comes into force.
A letter from association secretary-general Ken Loo to Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, seen by Khmer Times yesterday, called for talks on setting an appropriate grace period to prepare for the reform..
The association says it recognizes the obligation to comply with the change in the law but feared possible negative outcomes if the law is enforced immediately without an appropriate grace period to allow employers and workers to get ready.
Mr. Loo said the majority of workers are now paid in cash and changing this would require an administrative overhaul.
“Many employers still don’t pay wages through banking or electronic payment systems,” Mr. Loo said.
“To do this will create additional workload for administrative, accounting and human resources staff, which will cost time and money.”
He said employers were willing to change the way they pay workers, but warned the majority of staff have a limited understanding of electronic pay and are unsure about the idea.
“We need adequate time to explain the plan to workers,” he said. “Once they understand, we will be able to pay workers twice a month with minimal side effects.”
Mr. Sam Heng used the Labor Ministry’s annual meeting in February to raise the issue of factory workers being abandoned by managers who flee without paying them.
The Labor Minister proposed the twice-monthly pay plan as a way to limit losses experienced by workers.  
Mr. Loo said the change in the law could go some way to helping workers, who would lose only half a month’s pay if their bosses ran out on them.
The practice of paying garment workers once a month was adopted when minimum wages for staff in the textile, garment and footwear industry were implemented in 1997.
But Mr. Loo said his association is committed to changing to twice-monthly payments.
A ministry spokesman said the department and GMAC will hold talks on the issue tomorrow.

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