Workers under quarantine can't be forced to take annual leave, says Human Resources Ministry

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 17 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: Workers who are issued a quarantine order for Covid-19 cannot be forced to take their annual leave, says the Human Resources Ministry.

“Workers who were given a quarantine or observation or home surveillance order cannot be forced to use their annual leave for the quarantine period, as the annual leave is part of the workers' rights.

“Employers can order any of their workers who are unwell to not attend work and to grant them paid leave.

“Employers also cannot bar their workers from coming to the workplace without a quarantine order issued by any registered medical practitioner, ” the Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (March 17).

Employers who do not provide paid sick leave for their workers for the quarantine would be committing an offence under Section 60F of the Employment Act, it added.

Workers, the ministry added, are entitled to at least 14,18 and 22 sick leave days (excluding hospitalisation) if they have been working for less than two years; between two and five years, or more than five years respectively.

For workers who are given a quarantine period that exceeds their eligible sick leave period, employers are encouraged to offer additional allowance to them.

“Employers have to provide paid sick leave or hospitalisation leave during the entire treatment period for patients who are confirmed as having symptoms of the Covid-19 infection, ” the ministry said.

The ministry also suggested a few steps for companies to take to relieve cost pressures and avoid possible retrenchment measures.

This includes limiting overtime hours, reducing numbers of days worked in a week or reducing work hours.

Companies could also implement temporary lay-offs in the form of a temporary shutdown by offering a reasonable salary and allowing employees to work elsewhere until the operations of the company start again.

They could also consider fair pay cuts across the board, as a final resort if all other cost-saving measures have been implemented.

Should businesses continue to worsen to the point of requiring to retrench workers, the ministry said companies could refer to retrenchment guidelines at and provide a 30-day notice to the Labour Department.

Those who fail to adhere to such regulations can be fined a maximum of RM10,000 for each offence.

The Labour Department in Peninsular Malaysia has also set up a centre to monitor and record the retrenchment of workers following the Covid-19 outbreak.

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