If you like to occasionally check the Covid-19 vaccination statistics in Malaysia, you would know that by now, around 3 million people have at least received their first shot. We’re seeing more and more people getting their vaccines now, compared to some weeks and months ago. If you’ve signed up for the vaccine and have an appointment not too long from now, you might be preparing to deal with the common after effects such as fever and fatigue.
And if you happen to be someone who works, you most likely will want to rest and not think about work for the day. Or perhaps you ended up getting a vaccine centre that’s really far away, and you’d need the day off to travel there and back.
In situations like these, do you need to ask your boss for a day (or two) off, or are they actually obliged to give you leave?
The government is allowing employers to give leave
This topic actually cropped up way back in April this year, and the government finally decided that employees can get vaccination leave. However, it would not be counted as a public holiday or an automatic holiday for obvious reasons.
One, everyone would have different vaccination dates and so there can’t be a blanket holiday. Two, it would be difficult to predict exactly when a person might start showing some post-vaccine symptoms, so automatically giving them leave on a particular day might not work. Three, holidays actually cost the economy a lot of money—one day of paid leave in the private sector is said to cost RM904 million.
This is why you can’t automatically be given a ‘public holiday’ the day you’re vaccinated. To work around these issues, the government has allowed employers to give employees leave, if and when they want to. They could decide to give you leave on the day of the vaccination, the following day, or both, or any other day you might need to rest. It’s totally at your boss’ discretion.
But it still boils down to your company’s policy
To put it simply, no, your company isn’t obliged to give you a day or two off, and it definitely isn’t mandatory. However, there are a few things to note:
- your company has the right to give you paid or unpaid leave, so they can deduct your salary if you’re going to be away for a day or so
- you can still get an MC, of course, which would be completely different from a normal leave. This would be more for those of you who have a fever, body ache or anyone who feels under the weather after the vaccine. So, you can head over to a clinic and get some medication and an official medical certificate
- your employer cannot stop you from going for your vaccine appointment. Even if it falls on an important day where you have a tonne of work, once you have a vaccine appointment, you have all the right to wrap up work for the day and go get your shot. Your boss cannot make you reschedule an appointment against your will, either. Such employers can be reported to the authorities—either to the Health Ministry, the Ministry of Human Resources, or the Malaysian National Security Council.
Companies may also choose to take an easier approach to ensure not too many of their staff are absent at once. For example, they could opt for the Selangor government’s Selangkah Vax programme. Under this scheme, employers can purchase vaccines for their entire staff body. This would allow all the staff to be vaccinated at the same time, at the same venue (bigger companies can get their vaccinations in the office premises).
There are also companies that have decided to offer a few days of paid leave to employees, so that more people would be encouraged to take the vaccine.
In short, there’s no cut and dry answer to this, but all you need to know is that your company CAN give you vaccination leave, but it’s not mandatory.
However, it’s best for companies to come up with a specific policy for this so that employees aren’t confused, and to ensure that the policy doesn’t disrupt any employee from getting their vaccinations. If your company doesn’t have a clear cut policy on this up to now, just pop by the HR office to ask them what you need to do when the day of your vaccination arrives.