With the sudden spike in the number of Malaysians down with COVID-19, the government announced the Restrictive Movement Order yesterday. The Order essentially acts to control and curb the rise in COVID-19 cases, by restricting movement and mass gatherings from 18-31st March.
Now some companies have still not gone under the temporary closure—however this is subject to change once the Human Resource Ministry updates the guidelines.
If someone in your company has already contracted the virus, and you want to know what are your rights—you can read this article we wrote previously. In this article we’ll look at what employees need to know, if your company isn’t observing the movement order (yet) and you still need to go to work.
But before we look at some of your rights, we need to first make a distinction between jobs that are classified as “essential services”—which are basically companies that are exempted from complying with the movement order.
Essential services are necessary for survival
So the current Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin mentioned some of the services that need to be provided during the order. Some of it include water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, post, transportation, oil & gas and the Fire and Rescue Department.
However, these are not the only government or private sectors that will be operating during this period. Regulation 2 of The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 lists down all the services that shall be provided during the period of the movement order. It’s a pretty long list, so please bear with us:
As you can see, the list goes on to state every service that is important in our daily lives. Essential services are basically managed by the government or any private sector—and the interruption of these services would endanger life, health and safety of Malaysians.
Now that we’ve got this out of the way, let’s look at some of the Guidelines given by the Human Resource Ministry, for Malaysian employees who are not part of the essential service sector, but are still working due to the nature of their job:
1. Companies can issue employees a pay cut
With the current Movement Order we’re facing, companies may issue pay cuts to employees. The Human Resource Ministry issued guidelines on how companies can temporarily do so.
The Ministry issued a Retrenchment Management Guideline (Garis Panduan Pengurusan Pemberhentian Kerja) that requires employers to submit a ‘Retrenchment Form’ (Borang Pemberhentian) to the Ministry within 30 days before the pay cuts are implemented. The form can be obtained from any labour office in Malaysia, or the official website.
But take note: This action can only be followed if the company is facing financial loses due to the current pandemic.
2. Companies can implement shorter working hours
If giving employees a pay cut isn’t the company’s way to go, companies can consider implementing shorter working hours instead. As stated under Part 20 in the Corporate Harmony Procedure (or better known as Tatacara Perusahaan Keharmonian), companies/employers can consider limiting the working hours or days.
The regulations stated in the Guideline are in Malay, but it basically goes on to list some of the steps employers can consider taking to prevent lay-off or retrenchment. Here’s what it says:
- Limit overtime at work
- Reduce working hours in a week
- Reduce working hours in a day
So in order to prevent pay cuts of employees and to protect their rights, companies can consider implying the regulations stated as per the Guideline.
3. Your boss must try and find you a replacement job
The Guidelines also go on to say that companies can temporarily lay-off employees during the movement order. The Human Resource Ministry referred to the Corporate Harmony Procedure, which says temporary shut downs are allowed.
However, employers must ensure that the employees are paid accordingly, and should provide assistance in finding the employees a temporary job. The employer is also required to fill in the ‘Retrenchment Form’ (Borang Pemberhentian) to the Ministry within 30 days before the temporary lay-off is applied to employees.
Now if an employer fails to follow the Guidelines set, they would face some pretty hefty penalties.
Employers will be fined for not following the guideline
Any employer who fails to follow the Human Resource Ministry’s guidelines will be fined up to RM10,000 for each offence that was committed. The Ministry will also establish a monitoring committee to ensure compliance of the guidelines above.
The aim of the monitoring committee is to ensure the fate of employees are not jeopardized and to record any information on the retrenchment of employees throughout the country.
If you feel that your employer has not complied with the Guidelines above during this pandemic, you can always make a report to the Human Resource Ministry via their hotline: +03-88865192