Thursday, August 6

Give all needed help to workers under quarantine — MP

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Dr Kelvin Hii

KUCHING: Employers should extend all possible help to any of their workers returning from China and required to undergo 14 days of quarantine period, says Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.

He said this is part of a collective responsibility by everyone, including employers, to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the state.

“I think everybody has a collective responsibility to help address this (Covid-19) issue, and one of the responsibilities is for employers to provide the necessary aid and assistance to their affected employees.

“On top of that, employers are also encouraged to report to the authorities if any of their employees are coming back from China, and to encourage them to abide by the quarantine order and help them throughout this whole ordeal,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Dr Yii was commenting on a statement by Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran on Feb 6, that employers were to provide paid sick leave or hospitalisation entitlement during the quarantine period to employees receiving quarantine orders from a registered medical practitioner, regardless of the employee being quarantined at home or at the hospital.

On top of that, Kulasegaran also said that employers are allowed to instruct any unwell employee not to come to the workplace by providing paid sick leave to the employee, and that they should not instruct employees in any way to utilise annual leave entitlement or take unpaid leave during the quarantine period.

Kulasegaran also said employers should instruct their affected employees to seek medical examination immediately by a registered medical practitioner or by a medical officer as stipulated under Section 60F of Employment Act 1955, at the expense of the employer.

“Of course I have heard reports that some employers disregard this and force unpaid leave to employees who have to be quarantined at home. This is something that in my view should not happen.

“There should be a collective responsibility for employers to take care of their employees as well as to help during this whole (Covid-19) outbreak season,” said Dr Yii.

He suggested employees be creative in finding ways to harness the productivity of their employees even when they are quarantined, such as by utilising technology to allow them to work from home.

“I think employers also need to understand that this situation is not a situation that is wanted by the employees, so they must also take this collective responsibility to help to curb this outbreak.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo said quarantined employees who are not given paid sick leave may feel pressured to return to work, which would then pose a health risk to other workers.

“It would not be very smart for employers to refuse paid sick leave (to employees who have been instructed to self-quarantine). It will pressure employees to come to work and (possibly) spread the virus to other workers. Employers should not cut their nose to spite their face,” he quipped.

Kuching Division Journalists Association (KDJA) secretary Firdaus Arasy Idris said the quarantine order is crucial for media practitioners who are always on the ground covering public functions and events among large crowds.

Therefore, their employers should at least provide special conditions to those ordered to be quarantined at the hospital or at home.

“Media practitioners are also risking their health, being exposed to hazards while attending major events involving huge crowds,” he said.