MTUC urges employers not to use Covid-19 as excuse to shortchange workers


Modified 14 Feb 2020, 11:56 am

CORONAVIRUS | The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today advised employers to ensure that Covid-19 is not used as an excuse to shortchange workers so as to avoid any trust deficit.

Covid-19 is the official name for the 2019 novel coronavirus as announced by the World Health Organisation.

MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said the current situation calls for frequent engagement between employers and trade unions to ensure that the disease and the resulting fear is contained.

They must cooperate and find amicable solutions to problems arising in the crucial period, he said in a statement.

“By closely engaging with each other, no party will harbour any suspicious thought on actions taken at the workplace. This includes any action to quarantine, if necessary, which should not be seen as discriminatory but as a health initiative,” he said.

Employers should consider whether to limit business travel to affected areas at this time and provide reasonable accommodation, he said, adding that they can resort to video conferencing during the duration of the threat and heightened risk.

The statement also listed several measures for employers, among others reinforcing sick leave policies and encouraging employees to stay home if they are feeling ill to the extent feasible and not sending employees to China or any other affected location, unless absolutely necessary.

According to Section 15 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, it is the duty of employers to provide a workplace for workers which is free from recognised hazards, a workplace which is safe and without risks to health, among others, Solomon said.

He said employers should educate employees on the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and the precautions to minimise the risk of contracting the virus, besides implementing and/or evaluating workplace emergency response protocols.

- Bernama