What Happens When Employers Don’t Follow COVID-19 SOPs?

July 22, 2021
Nicholas K

A number of states, including Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, and Terengganu, are now under Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan in Malaysia — although Selangor and Kuala Lumpur remain under Phase One for now. This means that there are restrictions (to differing extents) for various states and localities throughout the nation, with limitations placed upon operations for many businesses and employers.

Regardless of this, there are still a number of strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are in place, restrictions that are designed to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. These SOPs play a crucial role in the eventual full reopening of all economic sectors; likewise, a huge responsibility is borne by employers to ensure that SOPs are adhered to for respective companies. 

Despite that, over 1,000 complaints have been made to the Ministry of Human Resources recently, with issues relating to (illegal) mandatory physical attendance for staff, as well as forced overtime.

As such, if employers fail to comply with the mandatory guidelines, there will be severe consequences — besides the indirect (and sometimes direct) consequence of spreading COVID-19. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the risks and punishments of not following COVID-19 SOPs in Malaysia.

A maximum saman of RM50,000 for companies + six months in jail

According to the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 ("Amendment Ordinance") that came into force in March 2021, every offence as covered by the act is now a seizable offence — which basically means that perpetrators can be arrested by a police without a warrant. 

Additionally, the Amendment Ordinance now means that employers who do not follow the pre-determined SOPs are liable to receive fines of up to RM50,000, or a jail sentence of up to six months, or both. Meanwhile, individuals that are found in contravention of the SOPs are liable for a sum of up to RM10,000 (and the same six-month jail term). 

Meanwhile, factories that are found to be in violation of the guidelines will also be shut down, with a compliance task force actively conducting inspections and spot checks throughout Malaysia. 

According to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the authorities are stepping up “total enforcement” for inspections due to the high number of SOP violations. 

What should employees do if employers violate SOPs?

If you’re an employee and your employers aren’t obeying the SOPs, you can — and should — make an official complaint to the authorities. Reports can be made to the Pasukan Task Force Operasi Pematuhan (the Compliance Operations Task Force) via the following channels: 

Source: Kementrian Sumber Manusia

The Ministry of Human Resources also lists down a number of common SOP violations, such as: 

  • Number of staff physically present at business premises
  • Lack of body temperature sensors 
  • Lack of social distancing
  • Lack of face mask enforcement 
  • Forcing COVID-19-positive patients to work on sh ift 
  • Lack of MySejahtera QR code

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