03 Apr COVID-19 Employers role and duty
What Can the Bosses Do? During Movement Control Order (MCO)
The recent Covid-19 outbreak has raised concerns on productivity in the manufacturing sector especially if it involves mass production. The inability to continue work during the period of the Movement Control Order (MCO) 2019 has created concerns for employers whom are not able to continue their businesses during the said period. However, the Ministry of International Trade has approved certain industries to continue with its operations particularly for those businesses which fall under essential services. The problem arises when employees working in the exempted industries refuses to report to duty fear of being infected with Covid -19.
Employees working in other sectors are required to work at home in accordance to their employer’s requirements.
At the outset, employees are only required to report for duty in the event their employer fall under exempted industries i.e essential services. as per the schedule of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Measures Within The Infected Local Areas) Regulation 2020 such as :
1. Banking and finances
3. Port, dock and airport services and undertakings, including stevedoring, lighterage, cargo handling, pilotage and storing or bulking of commodities
6. Production, refining, storage, supply and distribution of fuel and lubricants
7. Healthcare and medical
8. Solid waste management and public cleansing
10. Radio communication including broadcasting and television
12. Transport by land, water or air
15. Defence and security
16. Food supply
20. Hotels and accommodations
21. Any services or works determined by the Minister as essential or critical to public health or safety.
Q. What are the duties of the Company during operation hours?
a. has a duty to provide a safe working environment to its employees.12
b. must take reasonable care of the safety of its employee under common law.3
c. must take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of its employees especially during this period of the Covid-19 outbreak. Among the many safety measures that a Company is recommended to take is to provide hand sanitizers at all work stations, compel employees to use face mask at all times during work, practice social distance among all Company personnel, conduct screening on employees entering the work premises and sufficient sanitization at the premises.
d. ought to issue a memo to all employees ensuring they comply with the said measures failing which the Company shall be exempted from any liability or claims as a result of the employee’s own frolic. Employees have a duty to comply with the Company’s directives and to take reasonable steps for their own safety and health. Supervision to ensure employees are complying with the Company’s instruction must be carried out at all times during operation and non-operation hours (including lunch breaks and post work hours).
Q. What if employees do not turn up for work ?
A. In the event an employee refuses to turn up for work for two consecutive days he/she is deemed to have abandoned his work and therefore breached his contract of employment. The Company may terminate the employee’s services.4
Q. In the event an employee refuses to work although been instructed to do so can it amount to insubordination?
A. Yes. An employee has to obey the instructions of the Company. In the event the employee does not turn up work he/she has committed a misconduct and will be subjected to termination. The Company is recommended to issue a show cause letter to allow the employee to explain himself and if not satisfied with his explanation the Company can terminate his employment.
Other Relevant Matters & Disclaimer
1 SECTION 15(1) OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994
2 NG WAH ONN v. PANTAI HOSPITAL IPOH (PALOH MEDICAL CENTRE SDN BHD) 
3 MELR 25 3 TING JIE HOO V. LIAN SOON HING SHIPPING CO  3 MLRH 25
4 SECTION 15(2) EMPLOYMENT ACT 1955 (ACT 265)
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