PETALING JAYA: Many parents have been forced to take emergency leave to care for their children following a government decision to close more than 2,700 learning institutions in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya and Sabah due to the reinstated conditional movement control order (CMCO) for two weeks.
Some were charged unreasonable rates for childcare services of up to RM50 a day per child while others were forced to bring their children to work after being unable to find childminders at the last minute.
A doctor at a private clinic, Khairul Idzham Abdul Kadir, 36, is among the parents who are facing such problems, as he has to look after two of his children for the next 14 days while working 10 to 12 hours.
“Although I am concerned about the third wave of Covid-19, I am forced to bring two of my children, who are now asked to stay home, to work,” he told FMT.
“For the comfort and safety of my children, I have placed them in a special room so online teaching and learning can be easier.”
He said his wife could not apply for emergency leave to take care of their children.
“My wife’s employer seems like they do not understand the challenges for parents with schoolgoing children,” he said.
“If she wants to take leave, the employer has told her to deduct the days from her remaining annual leave.
“To me, the government should come out with exemptions (for leave) so that any matter related to Covid-19 cannot involve the workers’ annual leave. That is only fair.”
Meanwhile, a human resources staff member at a private company, who only wanted to be known as Hasnita, said she was forced to go on emergency leave because she could not find a nanny for her children.
“There are childminders who are willing to take care (of my children), but they ask for payments of between RM30 and RM50 a day for one child. If for 14 days, that would come up to almost RM700,” she said.
She suggested that employers give flexibility for parents to work from home (WFH) throughout the CMCO period, which she described as a win-win situation.
Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Adnan Mat has urged the government and employers to implement WFH policies to reduce the negative economic impact on the country during the CMCO period.
He said the move would solve workers’ concerns when schools were suddenly forced to close.
“If WFH preparations are improved, it may slightly lessen the economic effects because operations can still continue even though they were not being carried out at the office,” he told FMT.
Apart from WFH, he said, another alternative that can be a new normal in the public and private sectors is to introduce a work rotation system.
“If a task requires face-to-face interactions with customers, there should be a rotation system to ensure that each worker is given WFH benefits to manage their own families while remaining on duty from home.
“In the public and private sectors, priority should be given to workers with partners who are working as frontliners.”
Adnan said workers who choose to WFH should not suffer pay cuts.