No cutting annual leave, days off or wages during MCO

Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

BUSINESS owners and companies are not allowed to cut annual leave, days off or wages of their employees during the 14-day Movement Control Order (MCO).

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon said companies not listed as essential services were also not allowed to force their staff to work.

Employers, he added, must be responsible and make work-from-home arrangements or halt operations from March 18 to 31.

“We have received complaints that there are irresponsible and errant employers who disregarded the MCO and continued businesses as usual, deducting employees’ salaries, annual leave and days off.

“There is no provision in the law that employers can cut annual leave, days off or wages for these 14 days in such a crisis.

“Hence, employers cannot attempt to invoke such a right by misreading the law to take advantage of the situation and shortchange workers,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

According to the New Straits Times, Solomon said any attempt to do so could be deemed as an act of “sabotage” of the government’s initiative to contain Covid-19.

MTUC, he said, had set up a helpline email so that workers could report their grouses.

“MTUC will provide advice and assistance through [email protected]

“We will report directly to the police and the Human Resources Ministry irresponsible and errant employers, and they will be labelled as ‘traitors’ to the people and the nation.”

Solomon added that those who did not comply with the MCO could face prosecution under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967.

“It is a moral obligation for private sector employers who are not listed as essential services to close to help the government contain the spread of the virus.”

The Malaysian Employers Federation had urged companies and non-essential businesses to respect the MCO.

Its executive director, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, said employers not listed as essential services were taking a big risk if they continued to operate.

“They can be charged and, if found guilty, can face imprisonment, fine or both. So by operating, you are taking a big risk and putting your staff at risk, too.”

He said employers who were doubtful of their status as an essential service could check with the authorities.

“If you are a manufacturer, you can check with the International Trade and Industry Ministry, or if you are in doubt, don’t operate.

“We need to understand why the MCO was issued, which was to break the chain of the Covid-19 spread.”