Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Flood and Workers - Time for Paid CALAMITY LEAVE and other entitlements

Workers affected by the flood should not be forced to turn up to work. Their homes may have been flooded, or maybe their access from home to their workplace may be affected by flood. This should include 'almost affected by flood', i.e. in situations where the flood water is rising and will almost affect their homes - workers would need time to be able to transfer their belongings to safer places, and make arrangements to relocate their families from impending danger. Likewise, when flood waters have receded, workers will need time to clean up their homes and resettle their families in their homes, all of which are hard work and is time consuming.

But at present, even the Employment Act 1955 does not provide for paid leave during such calamities and emergencies. However, some unions have managed to include such leaves in their collective bargaining agreement - but alas less than 5% of workers in the private sector in Malaysia are unionized. Hence, it is essential for laws to provide this right to ALL workers in Malaysia. We should call this 'CALAMITY LEAVE' - and it should be paid leave, and it should cover floods and other natural disasters, maybe also including fire.

Many countries have this worker right provided for in law. In Netherlands, the employee is entitled to a maximum of two days paid additional leave per year in the event of a calamity. In Philipines, Two (2) days paid leave for employees who were affected by flood, fire and typhoon whereby there is a requirement that it must be supported by a Government proclamation.

Likewise, in Malaysia we need to have provisions for  CALAMITY LEAVE (or such Emergency Leave), and the length of this leave should be reasonably at least 4 days at full pay, and a further 7 days at half pay with any additional periods as 'no pay leave' if the worker have no more annual leave to utilize. The Human Resource Department may be tasked to verify workers' claim by providing required certificate to employers(and workers) if so needed. 

Many workers are paid only for the days that they work. In some cases, the workers are really working the same number of days as monthly waged workers - In Temerloh, workers that man local council booths selling parking tickets who work Monday to Friday are being paid according to the number of days they work - which is absurd, and they should really be treated as monthly waged workers. Now, these workers also need to be protected and entitled to paid CALAMITY LEAVE. In fact, all such daily waged employees who really should be monthly waged workers - fully entitled to their rest days, should be eliminated and made mode waged workers. 

Also noting that floods and such calamities cause much loss to workers and their families, maybe there is a need for a social protection scheme that could be put in place to help such workers in their time of need. This could be incorporated as a worker entitlement under SOCSO(PERKESO) and also the Workman's Compensation Act.

Workers affected by calamities, which may also in some cases mean loss of jobs by reason of their workplaces being damaged or affected by flood or calamities also need assistance - time for Malaysia, like Thailand, to have unemployment benefits. 

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