EMCO: Can Employees Be Forced to Take Annual Leave in Malaysia When WFH?

July 16, 2021
Nicholas K

With most of the state of Selangor (as well as several localities in Kuala Lumpur) currently under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO), many businesses are now implementing work-from-home protocols for their staff where possible. However, businesses that are classified as essential services are still allowed to operate — within limited hours of 8am to 8pm. 

Employees of these businesses, according to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan, are allowed to leave their homes to go to work — although it’s important that you prepare your staff with the correct travel documentation. These will be essential to your staff if they encounter any roadblocks on routes within EMCO districts. 

What happens if employees are asked to U-turn? 

Sometimes, the police may instruct your employees to U-turn, and head back home. This could be due to a miscommunication over essential services on behalf of management, or the employee may not have the required travel documents from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

If this happens, remind your employees that the police are simply doing their duty, and that they should comply immediately. However, in the case of situations where work-from-home is not possible, you might be wondering: Can management deduct the day from the employee’s annual leave entitlement? 

The short answer: No. According to a set of FAQs provided by the Ministry of Human Resources in 2020, employers cannot force their employees to take annual leave — this shall only be granted upon employees’ discretion and application. This was corroborated by the Minister of HR, who also added that workers should not be forced to take unpaid leave.

What if my employees are issued a saman on the way to work?

If your employee is issued a saman on the way to work, you might be wondering where the liability lies for the fine. The gist of it here is that employees of companies that are not classified as essential services who are forced to go to the office shall not be held liable for the fine. Instead, the employer will be liable to face action. 

According to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, offending employers can be reported to the Human Resource Ministry for violating standard operating procedures (SOPs) at 03-88862409, 03-88862352 and 03-88889111. The Senior Minister also explained that there have been a number of complaints regarding businesses breaking SOPs during this period, which has led to tightened enforcement in select areas. 

If your company falls under essential services as categorised by MKN, you’ll need to apply and register for approval letters via MITI’s CIMS 3.0 (find out more about that here). 

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