Employment policies must cover work-from-home

Laws, policies and Socso coverage must be looked into to address concerns that arise from working at home, such as health or safety scenarios

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by BLOOMBERG

A NEW culture has spurred in the working environment, specifically one that taps into digital connectivity over physical presence to reduce the potential of Covid-19 transmission.

However, over half a year in, employers and employees alike are finding concerns with the practice of working from home.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) ED Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said to reduce the issues, employment laws, policies and coverage from the Social Security Organisation (Socso) would have to be more flexible and include those who are working from home.

“Employment in our country has always been focused on on-site situations, and this will need to be relooked at in order to address concerns that arise from working at home, such as health or safety scenarios.

“Once these are addressed, then chances are productivity will also increase,” Shamsuddin told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said reduced productivity itself is the main issue faced by employers during the pandemic, as they can no longer monitor their employees within a proximity.

“However, it is also well-known that any direct monitoring or tracking will not be received well by employees, and there is no effective way to do so unless an employer was to instal a closed-circuit television system.

“And that is not necessarily a good idea,” he said.

Similarly, as much as one would like to say this pandemic has spurred the drastic growth in digital technology, giving rise to programmes such as Zoom, Shamsuddin said it is important to note that not everyone has the same level of connectivity.

“In Malaysia, we know some areas are still not connected via optical fibre and use the old cables.

“This means connection stability is a concern for a lot of people, meaning that even if they were to use Zoom or video call for meetings, there would be technical issues and thus delaying communication,” he said.

He added that in relation to the quality of connectivity, work productivity has decreased since working at home has become the norm.

“On the employees’ part, the issue of reduced productivity is mostly due to the lack of a proper workstation or equipment.

“They may be doing their work anywhere in the house or outside, and the problem with that is the equipment and seat they have may not be ergonomic and can cause long-term health issues,” he said.

Shamsuddin added that the lack of a proper workstation makes it hard for employees to carry the same mindset that they would have if they were working in the office.

“On top of that, if a group of people are needed at the office, their colleagues who are told to work at home may feel unwanted or useless.

“This perception may also reduce their productivity, therefore, rather than attempting to directly monitor, it is best that laws and policies, as well as how we perceive these environments need to be more flexible,” he said.

The Guardian had reported that career stress and burnout are more prevalent as workers try to accelerate productivity from home.

The international newspaper reported that according to a survey, one in three respondents of those who work from home have done an extra seven days of work over the past few months on average.

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