Securing and building on the strength of our workforce.

All our employees deserve fair and equal treatment. Kulim puts this belief into action with policies that protect our employees’ rights and dignity. Our human resource policies are governed by Malaysia’s labour laws as well as the International Labour Organisation’s (“ILO”) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work. We are also guided by the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony, which sets forth the  “principles and guidelines to employers on the practice of industrial relations for
achieving greater industrial harmony”.

In turn, all employees are expected to sign and abide by the Ethics Declaration Form and adhere to the Group’s Social Media Policy. Furthermore, we are committed to the highest standard of integrity, openness and accountability in the conduct of our business and operations. Since 2013, we have put in place a Whistleblowing Policy that encourages staff to report any criminal or unethical activities they witness.

Kulim is also in the process of implementing a Conflict of Interest Policy, which provides guidelines and reinforces good and professional behaviour in key areas. For example, concern for our employees’ health and safety has led the Group to adopt a zero tolerance stance on the use of illegal drugs, banned substances and alcohol in the workplace.


Kulim has always been especially invested in the “PEOPLE” aspect of Sustainability. We unconditionally agree with the global vision on the importance of building healthy and vibrant communities. Improving the well-being of the individual on an equitable basis, practicing ethical responsibility in dealing with the communities in which we work and play, and protecting vulnerable individuals and communities all lie at the centre of our sustainability agenda.

Our efforts start close to home. Kulim’s employees are its greatest asset and their contribution to the Group’s success cannot be over-stated. We are proud to have a team of such diverse talent, knowledge and experience able to work in tandem to carry the Group ever forward and we take great measures to continue this trend. We do this by fostering a workplace culture and environment that attracts, retains and develops people to reach their fullest potential so that we can continue to deliver value to our stakeholders.


As of the end of 2019, we had a total staff strength of 6,621 full-time employees in Malaysia Plantation Operation. Of this total, 5,354 or 80.86% were classified as workers with the remaining 19.14% comprising management and non-executive. Foreign workers made up 62.63% of the manpower, coming mainly from Indonesia, India and Bangladesh. In 2019, we recorded a turnover rate of below 6%, a testament to the Group’s strong retention power.

We strive to inculcate an inclusive work environment, where we have strictly enforced a policy of nondiscrimination against women, ethnic or religious minority groups and foreign workers. We also subscribe to the basic labour right of ‘equal pay for equal work’ for all employees, including field, office and management, based on pre-defined grades.




Typical worker accommodation is in two (2) or three (3)-bedroom houses that meets the Workers’ Minimum Standard of the Housing and Amenities Act 1990. Weekly inspections are carried out to ensure that all living quarters, as well as nurseries and community halls are in good condition.   During peak harvest seasons, mill workers tend to work longer hours to ensure that the fruits are processed before the quality deteriorates. However, we ensure that workers do not exceed the overtime limits to comply with the guidelines issued by the Department of Labour.




Child and bonded labour is illegal. While it continues to thrive in many developing countries, Kulim strictly enforces this law and does not employ anyone below the age of 16. To the contrary, we provide access to schools as well as other amenities for the welfare and development of our workers’ on-site families.   We respect the right of our employees to join organisations of their own choosing, as part of our commitment to freedom of association. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) that we have signed with our workers is periodically negotiated and reflect workrelated issues such as working conditions, wages and benefits, among others. A total of 2,977 or 52.13% of our employees are covered by the terms of the CBA.




Critical to Kulim’s success is our skilled and committed workforce. To this end, 2019 was yet another year which placed high priority on strengthening the Group’s organisational capabilities.

Among our many initiatives was our Performance Management System (“PMS”) which aims to promote a culture encourages hard workers and high achievers. Competencies are further encouraged through our performance based Reward System. To push teams, individuals and the Group as a whole to achieve continuously greater excellence, each year the targets of the previous year are reviewed and the bar is raised.


The Group’s job rotation and generic training programmes are specifically tailored to bridge the skill gaps of staff at all levels. Our experience has proven that job rotation can increase the depth and breadth of an employee’s knowledge and capabilities, thereby adding value to the organisation. When an employee is moved from one job to another, he or she is given a schedule of assignments designed to provide maximum exposure to a range of the Group’s operations. Apart from learning new skills, job rotation facilitates a better understanding of the organisation as a whole and the functions of its respective operating units and departments.


Building a strong pipeline of leaders is fundamental to our sustainability strategy. As millennials reach their peak employment years, they are quickly becoming aninfluential segment of today’s workforce. This generation brings with them new perceptions of what office life should be like and how relationships

should be structured. Compared with Gen-X employees and baby boomers, millennials are more likely to change jobs if they do not believe there are opportunities for them to move up the corporate ladder. Kulim understands that employees within this specific group want their points of view to be heard, so we offer regular staff engagement sessions which provides them with every opportunity to voice their concerns and expectations.


Key to the Group’s emphasis on human capital development is the promotion of learning, raining and upskilling for our staff. Kulim prides itself on consistently encouraging motivated employees to pursue professional qualifications. We have found that it benefits the Group as a whole when employees enhance
their core competencies, specialise and become certified in ACCA, CIMA, MIA, Certified Integrity Officer (“CeIO”) and Human Resource Certification (CAHRM and CHRO), etc. At the same time, we continue to collaborate with the Johor Skills Development Centre or PUSPATRI, ILP Pasir Gudang as well as IKM Johor Bahru to conduct technical courses for our employees.

Each year, we assess the potential and performance of stand out candidates through the Johor Corporation Leadership Programme (“JLP”) and Advanced Johor Corporation Leadership Programme (“AJLP”). Under these programmes, participants are exposed to numerous scenarios with business challenges and are given the opportunity to share leadership experiences. In 2019, a total of three (3) employees were selected for the AJLP and three (3) for JLP. This is in addition to the four (4) AJLP graduates in the previous year and 19 JLP graduates JLP in three (3) batches of participate.

The Strategic Enhance Executive Development System (“SEEDS”) Programme, which was launched in 2007, has been reengineered and registered with Skim Latihan 1 Malaysia (“SL1M”), which came under the aegis of the Economic Planning Unit (“EPU”) of the Prime Minister’s Office. The programme aims to develop and enhance leadership amongst the younger generation. The reengineered SL1M program was launched in December 2016 with an intake of 19 fresh graduates from local higher learning institutions. Another four (4) fresh graduates were selected for the second intake commencing April 2017, while the third intake, which began in July 2017, had a total of six (6) candidates. Which ten (10) of them had been offered permanent positions within Kulim group.


 Key to the Group’s longevity and human development strategy are Kulim’s plans for staff succession. To meet this need, Kulim introduced a revised Talent Management Framework to support its Workforce Succession Plans for key and critical positions in the management hierarchy. The talent management frameworks covers a number of critical steps, including identification of candidates with the right potential, a talent development programme, mentoring and coaching, and placement of the talent pool in core and strategic units to develop overall exposure. The ultimate goal is to ensure the placement of the right person with the right skills for the right job at the right time, as well as to ensure leadership readiness for key position as and when the need arises.


Kulim continues with its commitment to create an inclusive work environment and to advance this goal, has rolled out various initiatives to empower women in the workplace. As at 31 December 2019, the 797 women on our payroll constituted 12.04% of our workforce. Of this number, 1.63% were at the management level. Despite inherent challenges, our policy of non-discrimination against women also extends to our estate workers.



Efforts are on-going to educate and reinforce in employees of what constitutes inappropriate behaviours. Through a concerted campaign, women are also more aware of their rights and as a result, have become more open to reporting cases of sexual harassment. In 2019, two (2) cases of sexual harassment was reported.



All our female employees are entitled to 60 consecutive days of paid maternity leave in accordance with the Malaysia Employment Act 1955 Part IX Maternity Protection. In 2019, 34 female employees went on maternity leave and upon returning to work, continued their employment with the Company. We are proud of this 100% retention rate as employment patterns suggest that women with new born babies are likely to leave their jobs after one (1) year. As a matter of policy, utmost care is taken to ensure that pregnant or nursing employees are not exposed to harmful chemicals in discharging their duties.



In April 2018, the Group launched C.A.R.E. programme whose name reflects Kulim’s corporate values: Competitive, Action, Responsible and Ethical. The programmes are conducted by Employee Relations Executives (i.e. Executive Imams) to encourage employees to apply these values into their work and day to day activities. As of end-2019, Kulim has conduct 21 such programmes for a total of 609 employees (executive, staff and security guards) from both the corporate office and operating units and achieved a 86% satisfaction level from participants.

Caring not only for our stakeholders, but for one another, society and the environment is key to Kulim’s prosperity and survival. We integrate it into staying Competitive by taking Action in generating profitable growth in ways that are both Responsible and Ethical. 

Kulim will further improve C.A.R.E. programme whereby the programme will be expanded to workers in 2020.


The year in review saw positive advances on the KA$H KAD pilot project which has been approved at the end of 2018. The intention of this Human Capital Management Department (“HCMD”) project was to provide a safe, secure, globally accepted and Labour Law compliant way to bank in worker salaries.

During the year under review, a total of 5,413 workers had registered for a KA$H KAD. Currently, a total of 33 estates and mills, including KPF and Selai Cattle, use KA$H crediting. In view of the card’s popularity, we aim to reach 100% adoption for salary payout to the Group’s more than 6,000 workers.



Panel Aduan Wanita or the Kulim’s Women’s Grievance Panel, has since been renamed more empoweringly as Women OnWards (“WOW”). Endorsed by the Management with activities fully funded by the Company, WOW was established as part of a larger women employee outreach programme. In addition to providing a platform for women to air their grievances, WOW supports and promotes gender equality, as well as advances the knowledge and skills of our female employees.

Under a programme known as Jejari Bestari, WOW actively provides opportunities for the women in Kulim to become entrepreneurs in their own right. A WOW unit has been established in every estate, each one assisting women in developing a unique product, service or skill such as tailoring, baking, arts or handicrafts. These products or services are sold to staff and the public on festive occasions such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Company events such as the Kota Tinggi Eco Boat Fishing Challenge, Kota Tinggi MTB Challenge, Kulim Trail Run and among others. Income generated from WOW programme was chanelled back to their fledging businesses.

In 2018, Mutiara Johor Corporation in collaboration with WOW has published a recipe book titled: Nak masak apa mak? Meh mak tunjuk. The total of 60 recipes contained in this book are contributions from WOW members from each complex. Accordingly, WOW has received donations from Mutiara Johor Corporation from the sales of the  recipe book. The fund has been used to design the WOW Special Projects for WOW members and their families. Among the projects that have been carried out are barber and hairdresser training, classes in traditional malay massage and motivational courses for children of WOW members. 

Kulim has always acknowledged the important role women play in our workforce and works hard to empower women through WOW’s various initiatives. WOW’s efforts in supporting women have been recognised by industry practitioners over the years. In fact, this recognition was exemplified last year when Kulim was named winner in the Empowerment of Women Award in Bronze Category at the 11th Annual Global CSR Summit Awards Ceremony 2019.

In 10 September 2019, Kulim through WOW organised Jelajah Mutiara 25 Tahun in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of Mutiara Johor Corporation at KSRT Clubhouse. The event was graced by Yang Dihormati Datin Noor Laila Yahaya, the Chairman of Mutiara Johor Corporation. The objective of the event was to reach out to all Mutiara members, to bring members closer and to provide further understanding of the roles and functions of the association. The event also held a sharing slot on stress management topics presented by Madam Lee Yin, Psychology Officer from LPPKN Johor Bahru. 

From 10 December to 11 December 2019, WOW in collaboration with Unit Nilai, HCMD has organised the KEM DA’I CILIK 2.0 at Felda Residence, Tanjung Leman, Kota Tinggi. This motivational course encouraged the estate’s children to take part in collaborative activities in order to help them uncover opportunities for personal growth and development, promote self-reliance, build teamwork and become more proactive. The course was also part of WOW’s corporate responsibility efforts for its members and their children. The event received enthusiastic feedback from the participants; approximately 120 children of aged between 9 to 15 years old.


Kulim fully subscribes to ILO decree that every employee has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. This has not only been recognised as a basic human right by international bodies, but is also enshrined in various laws enforced by Malaysia’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

Kulim’s own commitment to our workers’ well-being is reflected in our OSH record, with numbers that set us apart from our industry peers. Over the years, we have made it our mission to manage OSH effectively through the implementation of efficient oversight and regulatory actions. This is strictly enforced at all our mills and estates, where a dedicated OSH Officer ensures the effective implementation of the Group’s OSH system. Apart from organising safety training programmes, conducting tool-box briefings and OSH quarterly briefings, the Officer’s responsibilities include investigating and reporting all accidents to the OSH Manager. All incidents are transparently reported and thoroughly invested so that important lessons can be learnt to prevent or at least, reduce their recurrence.

We recognise that ensuring the well-being of all employees is a huge task – far too big and important to be the responsibility of a single person or team. Kulim has therefore made OSH the responsibility of every employee Group-wide, whereby managers and staff across businesses cooperate to ensure everyone’s safety and health. Among the enforced initiatives, is a mandatory 40 hour (5 work-days) OSH training per employee, per year. The training covers, among other things, safe practices specific to our industry, including the handling, application and disposal of hazardous chemicals. 

Machine operators are also given special training and must pass an examination in order to qualify. Our tractor, lorry and mechanical buffalo operators have to
complete 16 hours (2 work-days) of trainng under supervision, and must pass practical examinations in order to become certified drivers and be allowed to operate the machines on their own.

In 2019, we had one (1) reported fatality. This drove us to implement improvements and enhance safety standard to reduce the likelihood of more accidents. The year under review also saw an improvement in the Lost Time Accident Rate (“LTAR”), which was recorded at 1.53 as compared to 1.98 posted the preceding year, thus keeping us within the target of below ten (10). Our severity rate was recorded at 2.82, compared with 3.25 registered in 2018, once again achieving our set target of below 3.5.

While numerous efforts have been devoted to reducing workplace accidents and injuries, and the Group’s respective OSH indicators show an improving trend, we are aware that there is always room for improvement. With the stakes being so high, we can’t ever afford to become complacent. Hence, we will strive even harder to identify and manage key occupational and safety risks through responsible governance, rigorous controls and compliance systems. As mentioned, OSH is treated as a shared responsibility between the Management and every employee at Kulim. We continuously enhance our approaches and procedures to ensure workers come to work safely, conduct their work safely and go home safely.

Kulim has also put in place a comprehensive OSH plan that takes care of the welfare and health of its employees. Our workers benefit from a range of amenities that are provided, including crèches, clinics and canteens. Regular fogging is carried out to reduce the threat posed by mosquitoes, while proper water treatment facilities have recently been installed as part of our health surveillance programme. The OSH Plan also covers various environmental aspects, the most critical being the adoption and enforcement of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.