On 20 October, the Malaysian government has announced that employees in the private and public sectors, at the management and supervisory levels, in areas under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will have to work from home once again. This comes after a recent surge in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said about one million workers in the two sectors in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor, Labuan and Sabah will be affected by the order. He also said that those affected includes some 800,000 workers in the industrial sector; and 200,000 civil servants in the federal territories and states under the CMCO.

This is harsh news for many businesses in Malaysia, since the nation has only recently began to show signs of recovering from the initial wave of the pandemic. However, Ismail Sabri said the work-from-home order was deemed necessary in order to stem the surge of new cases in the states of Selangor and Sabah.

“This is to reduce the movement of workers, since there are factories and business premises which are still operating during the CMCO,” he said.

Some exemptions for the work-from-home order will be made for those whose jobs require being present at the workplace. These include positions in the finance department, and those involved in enforcement, management, and welfare services. It goes without saying that the Covid-19 frontliners will also to continue to work as per the usual.

Ismail Sabri said the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) will be issuing the standard operating procedures (SOP) involved and a more detailed list of work-from-home jobs.

“Employers are required to issue permission letters for employees who have to work at the office. This is not a request, but a directive from the government,” he said.

For employees that are currently living in the Covid-19 red zones and are required to be in the office for work, a Covid-19 swab test will be required.

“If the workers are Social Security Organisation (Socso) contributors, the cost of the swab tests will be borne by the organisation. This is to ensure that those who are going to their workplaces are free from the virus,” he added.

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