Haze: ministry urges employers to consider flexible hours, work from home


The Ministry of Human Resources has recommended employers to implement flexible work policies during the ongoing haze period and allow employees to work from home.

The ministry said the matter was raised at a Cabinet meeting yesterday, where it is the responsibility of employers to ensure the safety and health of workers.

“It is important for employers to carry out risk assessments, take appropriate measures and to determine the need to come to work to ensure risks can be minimised,” the ministry said in a statement today.

“Labour laws in Malaysia do not prohibit employers from specifying a place of employment other than those specified in a contract. Depending on circumstances such as haze or flood, workers can work from home as a temporary measure until conditions are restored,” the statement read.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1994 (OSHA), the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) may order that any occupation affected by the haze be stopped in a situation that poses a danger to the safety and health of the worker, he said.

Any employer found not complying with the Stop Work Order under OSHA could be fined up to RM50,000 or imprisoned for not more than five years or both and a further fine of RM500 for each day the offence continues, he said.

The ministry said employers should begin preparations to protect workers’ safety and health against the effects of haze, including identifying workers at risk such as those with heart or respiratory problems, and setting criteria for stopping work outside.

Employers should also ensure workers with medical symptoms such as sore throat and cough, red and watery eyes, sneezing, itching and breathing difficulty get medical attention immediately, he said.

Employers should also identify the types of outdoor work that could be minimised, conduct proper respiratory device tests for workers who need to work outside, ensure the N95 breathing apparatus is used, improve efficiency of air purification devices for work and implement haze communication systems between employers and employees.