Recently, I came across news from both Malaysia and Singapore on employers and businesses are penalising their own employees who are issued with compulsory leave of absence or stay-home notice because they are at risk of contacting Coronavirus or Covid-19 in short.
Two Types of Enforced Quarantine
Some companies are enforcing a mandatory stay-away from workplace if the incumbent has been to China. The employee is suppose to self-quarantine himself for 14 days.
While some people are issued by the government to be self-quarantine at home or at a government facility, they will not be able to report to work.
Penalised by Companies
While there are a lot of great companies out there looking after their staff, there are some black sheeps that are ready to exploit the situation.
Some employers are deducting their annual leave or forcing no-pay leave upon their workers if they need to serve their 14-days quarantine period.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower has spoken up against employers who are not being reasonable and not adopting fair employment practises. If the employer wants to implement 14-days self quarantine on their workers, a full salaried must be paid during their absence of work and there is no need for an employee with zero travel history to China to be self-quarantine.
Employers are encourage to allow flexi-work arrangements with the affected employees and providing additional paid leave on top of their annual leave entitlement to cover their quarantine period.
In Malaysia, Peninsular Malaysia Labour Department said that employers are required to provide paid sick leave or hospitalisation leave during the quarantine period. A full salary must be paid to employees who received quarantine orders. Employers are not to instruct employees to utilise their annual leave entitlement or unpaid leave.
So what gives?
On one hand, as an employer, you want to make sure that your workplace is safe and quarantine those suspected staff will ensure business continuity.
On the other hand, in the shoes of the affected employee, it isn’t fair to use their own annual leave entitlement to cover the quarantine period.
It is only in the early part of the year, if one were to used up 14 days of their annual leave entitlement, then they wouldn’t have any breaks left until 2021. This can lead to individuals not wanting to declare if they have come into close contact with an infected person until they fall sick themselves.
What Internet Says
In troubled times like this, companies shouldn’t penalised their staff. There are plenty of ways to make sure the business stay afloat while making sure that the workplace is safe.
Volunteer Pay Cuts
Senior management can take the lead to take voluntary pay cuts to tide this period over while encouraging others to do so as well. It shouldn’t be forced or coerced since everyone have different financial obligations.
Work From Home
Technology is very advanced today that some companies don’t even need an office space to operate. While there are positions where you need to be onsite to perform your work, companies can looked in to how to place the incumbent temporary to other positions where he or she can work from home. A good example is a retail employee that is quarantine can be deployed to answer customer service emails from home. This way the employee can learn a new skill too!
Have Online Training
When a business is running a full capacity, it is nearly impossible to pull anyone out for training. Right now, with a lot of businesses only running at 50% to 70%, companies can looked into how to utilise this period to train their employees. Those under quarantine can sign up for online courses to boost their profile or learn a new skill that will benefit the company.
I believe this period will passed just like SARS in 2003. Together, we can hold on tight, try to keep our heads above the water and ride this storm through.
Stay safe, everyone.
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