Know your rights on unpaid leave and pay cuts, says MTUC

The MTUC says chefs are categorised as manual workers and are covered by the Employment Act. (Rawpixel pic)

PETALING JAYA: Workers have been cautioned against agreeing to their employers’ requests that they take a pay cut, go on unpaid leave, or use up their annual leave entitlement because of the restrictions on business activities.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress said there had been numerous reports of workers losing their jobs or being told to take unpaid leave because of measures against Covid-19 under the movement control order.

The MTUC’s secretary-general, J Solomon. said workers should seek advice from the Labour Department if they received letters from their employers about retrenchments, unpaid leave, pay cuts, or annual leave.

Solomon said the employers must comply with the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony and the Employment Act.

“Many businesses claim that they are going to die because of Covid-19 and the MCO: this may be the case for some, but I believe there are also those who are using this as an excuse to close down for a while and save on costs,” he said.

“What about the profits these companies have been making all these years?”

Solomon said he was concerned over those who have been told to go on unpaid leave as they would not have any income. These employees will not be eligible to seek any assistance under the Social Security Organisation’s Employment Insurance System.

He said employers cannot arbitrarily send workers on unpaid leave. There must be a willingness by the employee. An employer does not have an absolute right over unpaid leave, he said.

“Many chefs for example, may not know that they are covered by the provisions of the Employment Act. Chefs are categorised as manual labour and as such they are covered by the act, regardless of their salary.”
Solomon said retrenchments are covered by the Code of Conduct for Industrial Harmony and the ministry of human resources is duty bound to ensure compliance.

He said the ministry had repeatedly urged employers not to cut salaries or enforce unpaid leave or retrenchments during the MCO period. The ministry must find out the reasons if companies carried out such actions, he said.

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