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'Overworking invites illness'

 The New Straits Times Online, 30 December 2013

MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE: Work stress can reduce productivity, MTUC reminds employers

KUALA LUMPUR: THERE is a need for employers to look into the mental health of their workers to ensure that while they maintain productivity at work, they also enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) president Mohd Khalid Atan said overworking may cause employees to experience mental health problems due to work stress and pressure, leading to weak performance and low productivity.

"When employees are overworked, it is an invitation to illnesses. This is a loss to both their families and employers," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

He advised employees to take advantage of the annual leave entitlement given to them by their company, and told employers not to prevent their workers from going on leave.

"The annual leave (entitlement) is part of an employees' rights and the company should not restrict them from taking a break. That is when employees get to unwind and spend more time with their families."

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Healthy (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it was important for employers to pay serious attention to the promotion of mental health at the workplace to enhance the productivity of their workforce.

"Mental health at the workplace should be given due attention, as the productivity of the staff in any organisation depends on their mental health.

"Neglecting mental health and psychosocial factors at the workplace is not only detrimental to the individual, but also directly affects the productivity, efficiency and output of any enterprise," Lee said in a statement.

He said it was time the government considered introducing guidelines for mental health. It was also vital to fully understand all stress factors affecting employees, Lee said, adding that employers should examine and formulate a fundamental programme focusing on identifying problems at the workplace related to poor mental health.

He suggested employers should improve the work environment to make it conducive and introduce sustained measures for mental health promotion.

A recent Jobstreet survey revealed Malaysians were overworking and did not have a good work-life balance.

The New Sunday Times yesterday reported that almost 70 per cent of Malaysian employees spend between two and five hours beyond their official work hours every day, with 63 per cent admitting to not spending enough time with their families because of long working hours. The report also revealed that 54 per cent of employees did not get the chance to finish their annual leave entitlement.

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