KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — A total 776,135 of the 3.1 million workers in the Klang Valley, Sabah and Labuan must work from home starting tomorrow (October 22) in line with the National Security Council’s decision, minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali announced today.

Azmin, who heads the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), noted that the 776,135 workers or 25 per cent of the 3.1 million workers are those in management and supervisory roles, based on feedback received from the industry.

“However, taking into account the needs of industries that need the presence of a small number of workers at the management and supervisory level, Miti agrees to allow a maximum 10 per cent of workers covering among others tasks that involve accounting, finance, administration, law, planning and ICT to be in the office which is limited to just four hours only from 10am to 2pm for three days a week,” he said in a statement today.

Azmin said companies do not have to submit applications for these workers falling under the maximum 10 per cent category, adding that employers will only have to issue letters for approval for travel for each employee who is allowed to work throughout the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

“Employers have to determine Work From Home guidelines that are suitable, according to the needs of their respective companies,” he said.

Azmin further said the government will continue to work with the private sector and industries to enhance the implementation of work from home as the new normal, in line with the latest advanced technology and online apps.

He also said that Miti will continue to carry out strict monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance with standard operating procedures by industries.

Earlier in the same statement, Azmin said the 3.1 million workers is the total number of workers registered in the manufacturing, services and construction sectors in Sabah, Labuan, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya, based on Miti’s Covid-19 Intelligent Management System (CIMS) database.

In explaining the NSC’s decision yesterday for management and supervisory staff working in CMCO areas to work from home, Azmin said this was intended to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Azmin also noted that the Health Ministry saw an urgent need to tighten the standard operating procedures during the conditional movement control order (CMCO) by restricting the movement of the public especially in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur — with these two locations having high population density and being the country’s main industrial hub — as a preemptive measure to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Azmin said his ministry took seriously the Health Ministry’s advice for the public to stay at home to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections.

“As a government that cares and is responsible, balance between the protection of public health and continuity of economic activities is important to be achieved,” Azmin also said earlier in the statement, before going on to announce the mandatory work from home order for the 776,135 workers and the limited allowance for a maximum 10 per cent of management to be in the office.

Azmin’s statement today did not mention how long the mandatory work from home order for the 776,135 management workers or the limited allowance for management presence in office would be in place, but fellow minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday that this would be in place until the end of CMCO in the affected areas.

The government yesterday also said that employees living in red zones in CMCO areas but who need to go to the office will be required to take Covid-19 swab tests, with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) to cover the costs of the swab tests for contributors.

Separately in a Facebook post today, Azmin urged companies to make work from home a new practise to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections spreading, also saying that industries or workers who have problems with the work from home concept can channel their questions to [email protected] or Miti’s social media platforms.

Amid public confusion and questions on whether the maximum 10 per cent referred to all staff or just staff at the management level, Miti shared several infographics on Facebook and Twitter to illustrate its point.

Miti then gave an example of a manufacturing company with 1,000 operations staff and 100 management and supervisory staff working at the office, explaining that the 1,000 operations staff can continue work as usual and do not have to work from home, while only 10 per cent of the 100 management staff (amounting to just 10 persons) are allowed to work at the office based on the allowed time.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had yesterday highlighted that almost 70 per cent or 18 of the 26 active Covid-19 clusters in Selangor are from local transmissions within the community, with nine of these clusters involving Covid-19 infections spread at the workplace.

Malaysia had first entered the movement control order (MCO) on March 18 where all non-essential businesses had to close, with restrictions subsequently relaxed under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed nationwide from May 4 with many economic activities allowed to resume.

Restrictions were further relaxed when Malaysia moved on to the recovery movement control order (RMCO) on June 10, with this order to last until December 31.

But with the spike in Covid-19 cases, the government again imposed CMCO for a two-week period on Sabah from October 13 to October 26 and on Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya from October 14 to October 27, while CMCO was again imposed on Labuan from October 17 to October 30.