Monday, 5 April 2021

Working From Home: Legal Issues and Concerns

 This article is written by Amardeep Singh Toor (Partner) and Alycia Tan Wei Wenn (Associate) (Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill) (LHAG) and was published  in September 2020. Reproduced with permission from LHAG.


The COVID-19 global pandemic has made working from home (WFH) become more commonplace than the daily commute to the office. Even with the gradual lifting of the movement restrictions in Malaysia, many employers continue to encourage WFH arrangements. There are undeniably many advantages, for employers and employees alike, in having a WFH arrangement. Employers should, however, be aware of the various legal issues and concerns that come with working remotely.

Confidentiality and cybersecurity

Confidentiality and cybersecurity are issues of paramount concern in every organisation. Leaking or disclosing confidential information constitutes a serious act of misconduct, even where it is unintended. In the same vein, there are severe consequences arising from an employee’s act of providing unauthorised persons with access to company property, such as by divulging his login credentials for an internal system.

WFH arrangements create room for the unintended leakage or disclosure of confidential information by employees and give rise to potential cybersecurity risks. An example may be where an employee allows a family member to use his work laptop or leaves the laptop unattended while confidential documents are left open and/or easily accessible. Another possible scenario is where the employee does not use a secured Wi-Fi or a virtual private network when working on the laptop, hence leaving it vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

Considering the above situations, employers should take steps to ensure that confidential transactions, deals or documents are not in any way compromised by employees who are WFH. Documents should be stored under lock and key, especially if the employee does not live alone or if his workspace is frequented by others. Employers who provide work laptops to employees need to regulate their use to ensure that employees always keep them secure. Employers should also set out clear protocols for employees to follow in the event of a cyberattack so that employees are well-equipped to manage cybersecurity risks presented by WFH arrangements.

Health and safety

Every employer has a duty under the law to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare of all his employees at the office. It is relatively straightforward for employers to take such health and safety measures when their employees are working at a place under their control. Employers, however, do not have the same sway when it comes to an employee’s home.

Issues may arise should an employee sustain an injury during normal working hours while WFH. Employers may face difficulties in determining whether the injury can be classified as an “occupational” injury if the employee had sustained it while carrying out a non-work related activity. There should be clear instructions and procedures for reporting work-related injuries sustained during WFH arrangements.

Employers should also be wary that there may be a need to review existing insurance policies to ensure that their WFH arrangement does not contravene any terms and conditions of such policies.

Time management

While WFH can boost employee morale due to the obvious savings in costs and lower stress levels associated with commuting, WFH may also give rise to disciplinary concerns, especially in the aspect of time management.

WFH arrangements inevitably cause a blurring of lines between working and non-working hours. This may lead to employees working at irregular or erratic hours instead of their normal working hours. Employees may even be uncontactable during working hours, leading to unnecessary delays in completing tasks. For employees covered by the Employment Act 1955, WFH arrangements may also lead to dubious overtime claims if not properly regulated.

Employers will need to seriously consider effective steps to manage these disciplinary concerns arising from WFH arrangements. This may include the implementation of appropriate mechanisms to monitor timekeeping for employees, especially those who are entitled to overtime claims.

Assessment of probationers and performance

WFH arrangements present considerable challenges in assessing the performance of employees. This is especially so in regard to a probationer. It is trite law that employers need to provide a fair opportunity for a probationer to prove his suitability for permanent employment.   In doing so, the employer would need to assess whether the probationer possesses the right skill, competence, temperament, aptitude, attitude and suitability.

It may not be too difficult to monitor a probationer’s skill or competence while he is WFH. Without face-to-face interactions, however, employers may find it challenging to assess a probationer’s temperament and attitude having regard, inter alia, to the organisation’s corporate culture.

Employers may need to consider how they can reconfigure their employee performance management system, including yearly appraisals and performance improvement plans, to cater to WFH arrangements.

Conclusion

WFH arrangements are being increasingly accepted as part of the “new normal” and the practice appears to be here to stay as long as the global pandemic persists. With WFH being a relatively new practice among Malaysian organisations, employers may find themselves struggling to navigate through the waves of various legal issues and concerns that may come with the implementation of WFH arrangements.

It is imperative for employers to implement a written WFH policy to manage and address such issues and concerns as failure to do so can have serious implications.




Note: For further information about our Employment and HR subscriptions, contact us at my-sales@wolterskluwer.com (Malaysia).

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Tourists to pay tax on accommodations booked online



From 1 July 2021, tourism tax will be levied on a tourist staying at any accommodation premises booked online through a digital platform service provider. The order has been gazetted on 16th March 2021. 




Note: For further information about our Tax subscriptions, contact us at my-sales@wolterskluwer.com (Malaysia).

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Malaysia's DTA with Cambodia now in effect



The provisions of the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) between Cambodia and Malaysia are effective in Malaysia from 1 January 2021. The DTA was gazetted on 30 December 2019 and entered into force on 28 December 2020.


(Note: For the text of the treaty or further information about our Tax Subscriptions, contact us at my-sales@wolterskluwer.com (Malaysia)).

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

PERMAI Assistance Package


The Prime Minister of Malaysia announced the Perlindungan Ekonomi Dan Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) Assistance Package valued at RM15 billion on 18 January 2021. The package aims to:-

  • Combat the Covid-19 Outbreak
  • Safeguard the welfare of the people
  • Support the business continuity 

The following measures were announced by the Prime Minister:

  • Personal tax relief for private COVID-19 screening 
  • Tax deductions for contributions made towards curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Extension of special personal income tax relief on the purchase of personal computer, smartphone or tablet
  • Extension of sales tax exemption on passenger vehicles 
  • Wage subsidy program 3.0
  • Shorter ownership period to qualify for excise duty and sales tax exemption for taxi owners 
  • Special deduction on rental discount extended given to non-SMES







(Note: For further information about our Tax Subscriptions, contact us at my-sales@wolterskluwer.com (Malaysia).

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Malaysia's Indirect Tax - What's new

The following bills have been passed in Parliament: 

  • Tourism Tax (Amendment) Bill
  • Service Tax (Amendment) Bill
  • Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill
  • Customs (Amendment) Bill
  • Free Zones (Amendment) Bill
  • Excise (Amendment) Bill


The Tourism Tax (Amendment) Bill  seeks to make the following changes:
  • Tourism tax will be levied on accommodation premises made available through online booking.
  • The tourism tax shall be collected from a tourist by the digital platform service provider who made the accommodation premises available through online booking, and pay this tax to the Director-General.

The Service Tax (Amendment) Bill seeks to clarify:
  • That any registered person who ceases to carry on the business of providing any taxable service should notify the Director-General in writing within 30 days from the date of cessation. 
  • The Director-General will refund any balance in the amount of the refund after a registered person has made a deduction.

The Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill seeks to: 
  • Empower the Director-General to direct any registered manufacturer to deduct the amount of refund from the amount of sales tax to be paid from the return. 
  • Empower the Director-General to withhold any amount of refund to be credited to any following or subsequent taxable period.
  • Empower a proper officer of sales tax to seal goods that cannot be removed due to their nature, size or quantity.
  • Provides creditability of an agent provocateur's evidence. 

These bills: Customs (Amendment) Bill, Free Zones (Amendment) Bill and Excise (Amendment) Bill
  • Empowers a senior officer of  customs in relation to enforcement, investigation and inspection.
  • States that the evidence of an agent provocateur is admissible.
  • States that under the Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, the Director-General may authorise nine-tenths of the paid duties to be repaid as a tax return if the goods are re-exported after the duty has been paid.








(Note: For further information about our Sales and Service Tax (SST) subscription, contact us at my-sales@wolterskluwer.com (Malaysia).


Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting Asia Pacific Customer Welcome Announcement

 

KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan transforms the audit experience for its clients with CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement


One of Indonesia’s leading public accounting firms, KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan, has completed its implementation of the award-winning CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement solution for its busy audit practice. The implementation will see the firm achieve a 100% digital workflow for its audit team, increasing the efficiency, security, and accuracy of its client work.

CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement delivers a full toolset for workpaper management; trial balance; audit preparation and execution; content and research; data analysis; and fraud protection.

For KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan, implementing CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement was key to ensuring its workplace was more efficient and effective. The eight-person audit team wanted to improve its audit workflow and benchmark the quality standards for its audit workpapers and documentation. With CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement, the audit file would be more secure, with reviewers having confidence that changes made to a file would be automatically reflected in the audit work papers.

“We chose CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement based on the industry-leading reputation of Wolters Kluwer and positive recommendations from our industry colleagues. The team had heard a lot about it being a user-friendly interface. And, we see this as a strength because previously 60% of our files were paper-based. Now we have moved to 100% digital files and removed paper from our audit workflow entirely,” said Mr Revano Hananta, Partner, KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan.

Implementing CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement during the remote work requirements resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has also paid off for the firm. The audit team now can work from anywhere with secure access to digital files, helping them deliver their audit tasks effectively and efficiently. This meets ongoing COVID-19 working requirements should the firm face any future lockdowns and gives the staff more flexibility to work from home or remotely when required.

CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement has increased the firm’s efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in terms of workflow. The firm expects to generate further efficiencies across project tracking, reporting, review, sign off, and archiving as the audit team onboards and completes each client audit. Hananta acknowledges they are aiming to free up additional storage space for files and potentially re-deploy it for new staff.

“By freeing up the firm’s auditors with our new sophisticated audit service, we are forecasting accelerated completion rates. What this means is we can move our focus away from administration and instead focus on solving our client’s business challenges. Our firm has built an excellent reputation by offering our clients personalised services that go beyond traditional accounting practices – this includes audit. This is the type of support they want from us, and it creates a value-added revenue stream for the practice," continued Hananta.

 KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan is confident that CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement will continue to support the professional standards for the firm and help foster growth. Improving the firm’s audit workflow and developing better quality control over audit workpapers and documentation is vital for greater productivity.

 All KAP Hananta Budianto & Rekan clients will have their workpapers and financial statements incorporated into the CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement system. Replacing paper means these electronic binders will automatically link to client engagement and trial balance data and connect scanned documents to the correct engagement binder. When an audit review is closed, it will be secured with safe custody for working papers.

Hananta shared "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team were all trained on CCH® ProSystem fx® Engagement via web training and there were no issues at all. It was easy for the team to adapt to a 100% digital system because of the excellent customer service and support from the Wolters Kluwer team.”

Monday, 14 December 2020

Build firm resilience with predictive intelligence

 


If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the future is full of unexpected surprises. But what if you could predict the future? Although there are still many unknowns, predictive intelligence can help you build resilience by proactively identifying how tax legislation or regulatory changes could affect your clients. Advanced technologies, like CCH iQ Client Match can help firms provide enhanced client service and deliver business insights that help streamline tax season and discover additional revenue streams.


Provide year-round superior client service

If you want clients to view you as advisors rather than just accountants, you need to anticipate their needs before they even ask you for help. Because if you don’t, you could lose their business. Up to 72% of small businesses have changed accounting firms because the firm wasn’t proactive about addressing tax law changes. With predictive intelligence, your firm can offer updates all year long on how regulatory changes might affect them, so clients can take action today.

Create an efficient tax season

With growing financial advisory services, your firm is keeping in touch with clients all year long, delivering important business insights proactively. But did you know that predictive intelligence also can save critical time during your busy season? With CCH iQ Client Match your firm can streamline the tax prep and review process by identifying which legislative changes could affect each client. This gives you a heads up for areas of the tax return that may require a bit of extra attention.

Discover new revenue sources

You can use the power of predictive intelligence to flip your firm’s mix of business from primarily commoditised compliance services to a higher percentage of lucrative advisory services. Position your firm as a trusted partner and open up additional revenue streams.

 

Working From Home: Legal Issues and Concerns

  This article is written by  Amardeep Singh Toor (Partner) and Alycia  Tan Wei Wenn (Associate) (Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledh ill) (L...