As Malaysia prepares to reopen, PM asks employers to grant work flexibility to parents, introduce staggered hours

A woman watches the live telecast of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin speaking about the fourth phase of the MCO in Kuala Lumpur May 1, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
A woman watches the live telecast of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin speaking about the fourth phase of the MCO in Kuala Lumpur May 1, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has asked employers to allow flexible work arrangements for working parents and staggered hours for their employees.

In his Labour Day address broadcast “live”, Muhyiddin asked employers to embrace flexible work arrangements to avoid congestion on the roads and public transport in a bid to keep Covid-19 at bay.

“Not everyone needs to come to work at the same time. So we can avoid people rushing to the office at the same time,” he said.

Muhyiddin also advised all public transport users to wear face masks and carry hand sanitiser at all times, cautioning them that they still run the risk of contracting the virus.

He also called on employers to take workers’ body temperatures daily, and to ensure office furniture is clean, as well as to avoid physical contact between colleagues.

“In fact, even when all sectors of the economy are open, employers can encourage workers to work from home. This is the new normal that we must adopt. Talk to employees. Any task which can be done at home, do it at home. It’s better.

“Perhaps a schedule of alternate working days can be arranged. Today, work at the office; tomorrow, work from home,” Muhyiddin said, adding that this can also address childcare woes for working parents.

Muhyiddin pointed out that when couples take turns working from home, this can indirectly also prevent crowding at childcare centres.

“Indirectly, this can reduce the number of children in daycare centres and it would be much easier for babysitters to manage the children according to the health standard operating procedures,” he said.

For the public sector, which will begin operating on Monday, Muhyiddin said that the government encourages civil servants to work from home, unless their presence is required at the office.

He also encouraged meetings to be held virtually.

“I ask that all heads of department hold discussions with their respective departments, to rearrange their manpower needs while prioritising the work-from-home concept,” he added.

Come May 4, almost all economic sectors and businesses will be allowed to reopen subject to strict conditions in what is termed a conditional movement control order (CMCO), Muhyiddin had earlier announced.

He said that the government can no longer afford to carry on with the extended movement control order (MCO) imposed on businesses, which has dealt a significant blow to the nation’s coffers.

He said that the government has been suffering RM2.4 billion in losses daily during the MCO, adding that the losses to date are estimated at RM63 billion, with another RM35 billion to come, should the MCO be extended longer.

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