Employees cannot be forced to go to workplace during MCO

Pic By ARIF KARTONO

CLOSE means close! Every employer in the country must follow all the orders and instructions declared by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

There cannot be any compromise over this matter by the employers as we are dealing with the spread of deadly and highly contagious new virus, which has no vaccine and which has caused the death to many people across all over the world.

Recently, the country’s Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has declared the Movement Control Order and the closure of certain premises in the country in order to curb the spread of the virus in the country.

The Order and instructions which had been announced includes: all mass gatherings are banned; Malaysians are not allowed to travel abroad; there’s a restriction on foreigners that can visit Malaysia; all day-care centres, schools and learning institutions are to close; all higher education institutions and skills training centres are to close; and all government and private services are to be shut down, except those providing
essential services.

Such Order will be enforced beginning March 18 until March 31, 2020, and will be enforced throughout the country. The Order and instructions have been made following the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases 1988 [Act 342] and the Police Act 1967 [Act 344]. As such, it is very important or all employers to strictly follow such Order and instructions if they are serious to combat the spread of the Covid-19 in the country.

On record, there are more than four thousand deaths due to the infection globally.

In our country alone, hundreds of cases of infections have been reported. The government must monitor all employers in the countryand constantly remind all employers about the need for them to follow such Order and instructions without excuses or twists.

Stern action must be taken against anyone, including employers who break the law by not following all the orders and instructions.

Section 22 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases 1988 [Act 342] clearly states that: Any person who a) obstructs or impedes, or assists in obstructing or impeding, any authorised officer in the execution of his duty; b) disobeys any lawful order issued by any authorised officer; c) refuses to furnish any information required for the purposes of this Act or any regulations made under this Act; or d) upon being required to furnish any information under this Act or any regulations made under this Act, gives false information, commits an offence.

Section 24 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases 1988 [Act 342] stipulates that: Any person guilty of an offence under this Act for which no specific penalty is provided shall be liable on conviction a)
in respect of a first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to fine, or to both; b) in respect of a second or subsequent offence, to imprisonment not exceeding five years or to fine, or to both; c) in respect of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding RM200 for every day during which such offence continues.

Legal action can also be taken against employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 [Act 514] for failing to take good safety and health of their own workers. Legal action can also be taken against such employers under any existing labour laws in the country like Employment Act 1955 [Act 265] and Industrial Relations Act 1967 [Act 177]. Serious criminal action can also be taken against such employers under the Penal Code [Act 574].

Employees can lodge any complaint over the matter to any relevant authorities in the country like the Ministry of Human Resources, or the police. The government must create an enforcement unit to monitor the enforcement of all the orders and instructions announced by them, so that nobody in the country takes such orders and instructions lightly.

  • Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow is a senior lecturer, Faculty of Shariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia.