KUALA LUMPUR | With business shutdowns and job losses mounting, it is safe to say that a majority of Malaysian employees will not be seeing fantastic increments and bonuses next year.

More than 30,000 companies in Malaysia have shut down since March and the job loss tally was close to 90,000 at end-October. Basically, the writing is on the wall for employees expecting hefty salary increments and bonus payouts next year, except perhaps, for those in specific sectors or with niche skills or experience.

Mercer’s annual Malaysia Total Remuneration Survey (TRS) 2020 conducted between April and June this year showed that companies were forecasting an average 5% overall increase in salaries for 2020 — but an updated survey conducted by the consulting firm reveals a softening in the projection to 4.5% for 2021.

But just how bad do the 2021 salary packages look like? We speak to experts on their take on the outlook for Malaysian salaries, and the job market as a whole, including issues pertaining to the upskilling and reskilling of the Malaysian workforce.

In our accompanying stories, we look at the prospects for non-executive and blue-collar jobs and salaries, and we also look at the recent MYFuture Jobs policy on hiring of expatriates and foreign workers which has drawn criticism from some quarters. The policy, which was initially supposed to take effect on Nov 1, has since been postponed to Jan 1, 2021.

Lastly, we also look at the issue of high skill-related underemployment which reveals structural issues in the labour market.

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