Friday, August 20, 2021

COVID - Workers at risk - as Government statements without LAWS will not vary employment contracts? Will suffer with no remedies?

One of the failures of the PN-BN Plus government that was in power since Covid-19 came to Malaysia, is their failure to create LAWS that will deal with the problems facing workers, despite the fact that they could easily have done this, even during the Emergency.. Remember some laws did not even have to be passed by Parliament, as the relevant Act gives the power to Minister(or DG) to make subsidiary legislation, Regulations, Orders, etc

Generally, worker rights in Malaysia comes from the Employment Contract - note that even the Employment Act 1955, which provides for some basic worker rights, does not help ALL workers. The Act only applies to a small class of workers - generally those that earn RM2,000 a month or less, or those involved in Manual labour. Calls for these basic minimum rights for workers to be extended to ALL workers have not been heeded by past governments, be the BN government, PH Plus Government, or the PN-BN Plus, will the next Prime Minister address these fundamental issues.

1 - Extend the application of the Employment Act 1955 to ALL WORKERS, or at the very least maybe to all workers earning RM5,000 or less. 

2.   PAID SICK LEAVE entitlement may need to be increased. Now, the Employment Act in Section 60F provides at minimum only 14 days, and 60 days Hospitalization - note the maximum of sick plus hospitalization is 60 days. A person infected by Covid-19 cannot work for 14 days - so, that extinguishes his sick leave, if he/she is not hospitalised, and this is not fair. Therefore, the Minimum Sick leave must be increased, to maybe 22 days. After all, people do get sick other than by Covid.

be entitled to paid sick leave-

(aa) where no hospitalisation is necessary-

(i) of fourteen days in the aggregate in each calendar year if the employee has been employed for less than two years;

(ii) of eighteen days in the aggregate in each calendar year if the employee has been employed for two years or more but less than five years;

(iii) of twenty-two days in the aggregate in each calendar year if the employee has been employed for five years or more; or

(bb) of sixty days in the aggregate in each calendar year if hospitalisation is necessary, as may be certified by such registered medical practitioner or medical officer:

Provided that the total number of days of paid sick leave in a calender year which an employee is entitled to under this section shall be sixty days in the aggregate;

3.      Maybe, there needs to be a law, that stipulates that that home quarantine by reason of being infected by Covid-19 shall be deemed to be HOSPITALISATION. If not all workers, must be provided with a letter confirming that this stay at home is Hospitalization. This letter/document must be given now to all infected(or have been infected)

4.    SPECIAL COVID Paid Leave for the uninfected - Covid-19 pandemic has forced workers not to be able to go to work. One, their area may be subjected to PKPD(Enhanced Movement Control Order), and they cannot leave the area they live in to go to work. Second, they may be identified as a 'close contact'(not infected), and have been ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days. Third, one in their household has been infected, and subjected to home quarantine as they are in Phase 1, 2 or 3 (Now, with lack of available hospital space, those infected with mild consequences are asked to 'self-quarantine' at home, and naturally those living in the same home should not be moving around or going for work.). How many days? Maybe 14-20 days paid leave for situation where a non-sick worker cannot go to work. It could also be 14 days paid leave, and there 3/4 pay leave for a further 14 days. Now, this leave to be extended for situations like Flood, Natural Disasters, etc that prevent workers form being able to go to work. It may also include situation where the worker has to be present at the police station, courts, etc or has been remanded for investigation as a suspect.

5.  The Occupational Safety and Health Act need to be amended, where Covid-19 is listed as an occupational disease, placing an obligation on employers to keep workers safe from Covid-19, or similar infectious diseases. Now, this ACT has no such list. The Declaration of Occupational Diseases PU(b) 355/2000 has yet to include Covid-19 as an occupational disease - and we know about Covid-19 since the beginning of 2020. 

6.    Transform the current SOPs into Regulations, for a breach of regulations is an OFFENCE in law, while a breach of SOPs or recommendations may not still be. The law currently does not make a breach of any SOP or Recommendation into an offence, punishable by law. We need specific REGULATIONS, providing also for offences and penalties, for workplaces.

7.    A CLEAR LAW/REGULATION - when Covid infection is detected at a workplace, previously the practice was that the said workplace was closed for 14 days(and also sanitized), and all workers will be subjected to self quarantine at their residence. But then, now we see, it is uncertain. Even when Covid-19 was detected in Parliament, it was not shut down immediately, and neither were the MPs and workers therein subjected to 14 days self-quarantine. On site testing is insufficient, as we know that such tests even if infected may not show positive immediately but may do so maybe 10 days later - that was the justification for the 14 days quarantine for all those returning to Malaysia from overseas. Did the government LIE about this - was that 14 day quarantine really unrequired, if all that was needed to be done, was just test and those tested negative could go around as usual...How many days will the workers therein be self-quarantined? How many days will the workplace have to be closed?

This is but some points but the government can act on this first...and, if additional laws/regulations needed, this can be done later. Remember, many of these Regulations, Orders, etc do not have to be passed by Parliament as the relevant Act already gives power to the relevant Minister(or DG) to do this anytime.

Remember statements of the government, PM or Minister cannot be relied on for the conferment of legal rights/obligations on employer/workers - these need specific LAWS. Statements may appease the people, but if it is not followed up with the needed laws, it is but USELESS.

Besides worker issues, there are other matters of concern like the "Loan Moratorium" - was it legally binding and can be relied later on by the people when their financial institutions go after them for the immediate payment of all that owed payments, not paid for several months because of the Moratorium?  

See earlier post

Menteri Gagal Melindungi Pekerja dari Menjadi Mangsa Covid-19, hanya ada perlindungan sosial SETELAH pekerja sudah dijangkiti dan/atau meninggal dunia 

26 Groups - Minister Fails to Protect Workers from Becoming Victim of Covid-19, only social protection AFTER worker already infected and/or dies now exists. Clear Regulations and Standards Needed that Employers Must Comply to Protect Worker Safety and Health

Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families (51 Groups) - now 55


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