‘Offer incentives to employers’

PETALING JAYA: Business groups have called on employers to encourage all their workers to register for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) for public health benefit and to hasten economic recovery.

To expedite registration, Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) suggested that the government provide fiscal incentives to employers who do so, which will yield multiple benefits.

“The government can consider a physical incentive similar to the wage subsidy programme to encourage employers to get their workers to sign up for vaccination, ” said Koong Lin Loong, the SMEs committee chairman of ACCCIM.

He said an incentive of RM400 to RM600 per worker could be given to employers on top of the wage subsidy regardless of the employee’s salary range and remuneration.

“The company then can share the incentive with the employee, like giving them an ang pow of RM200 for registering.

“This will encourage more employees to sign up and aid the company’s cash flow without it having to take out loans, ” he said.

Koong noted that such an incentive should be implemented for a specific period, such as from May to July, for it to see results.

“However, if the government does not intend to fork out more from its coffer, it can consider giving tax rebates to companies that ensure that their staff register for the vaccination.

“But this method will only benefit companies that are making a profit and are taxable. The effect will not be as direct because not all enterprises are making a profit at this time, ” he added.

Once the targeted registration is achieved, he said the ministry should utilise the data and plan on distribution and logistics to expedite the vaccination process.

As of Thursday, five million Malaysians had registered for Covid-19 vaccination. The government’s target is to vaccinate 24 million people, or 80% of the country’s population, to achieve herd immunity.

Malaysia Trade Union Congress president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor said employers were obligated to protect their employees and should “take action to assist with the national immunisation programme to ensure that their workers and families are registered”.

By getting their employees to register, he said companies could help expedite the vaccination process by arranging with the relevant authorities for group vaccination at a suitable location and not cramming up the hospitals.

“The government can look into such arrangements as it is not easy to bring them all to government health facilities to be vaccinated.

“Employees too should take the initiative to sign up and be the agents for vaccination, ” he said, adding that the MySejahtera app should have a feature to remind users who have yet to register to sign up each time they check in at any premises.

Abdul Halim also expressed concern for undocumented workers, illegal immigrants and refugees in the country, saying a cross-departmental amnesty initiative was necessary for public health.

“The relevant ministries, agencies and local authorities should go to the ground, enter all premises and get them to report their workers’ details to the police station, be they legal or not.

“No penalty or action should be taken against them for coming forward to register as this is to make sure that no one is left out in fighting the pandemic, ” Abdul Halim added.Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said it had called on members to get their staff registered for the NIP.

“FMM has issued a letter strongly urging all members to give their full support by getting all employees, including foreign workers, registered for the vaccination towards realising the full benefits of the programme for the well-being of all and the economy as a whole.

“We have also been encouraging members via our advisories to support the programme so that it achieves the targeted goal in attaining herd immunity, ” he said.

Since the NIP is rolled out in phases, Soh said those slated to be vaccinated in phase three made up the bulk of the population that had yet to register for the vaccination.

“Employers could work with their respective district health officials to create awareness on the vaccination programme, educate their employees on the importance of immunisation for business continuity and reduce the risks of workplace infections, ” he added.

Soh also called on Malaysians to register early for better coordination, facilitation and operational planning of the vaccination process by the Health Ministry to ensure minimal disruption to business operations during the mass vaccination period.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said it was crucial to ensure the NIP’s success in order to rebuild the confidence of employers, employees and the public.

“Employers will want their employees to register and get vaccinated to protect clients and co-workers, as well as to avoid legal liabilities due to potential workplace transmissions.

“We should fully support the NIP and it is the employers’ civic duty to help the government achieve a minimum of 70% vaccination to establish herd immunity, ” he said.

But since the vaccination exercise is still voluntary, Shamsuddin said employers should not make it a mandatory requirement for staff and future employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“It would be discriminatory if employers make it a job requirement to be vaccinated for existing and future employees.

“Employers can encourage existing employees to go for vaccination by providing information, increasing physical access to clinics and doctors, and clarifying rumours and misinformation, ” he added.

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