Round 3 of the Lockdown has begun, in an attempt to combat the rapid spread of Covid-19, as well as three strands of VOC; the Alpha variant (B.117), the Beta variant (B.1.351), and the Delta variant (B.1.617.1).
Several workplaces in the private sector, in light of initially less strict measures, ensured employee attendance-. When cases began rising rapidly, this led to a number of jokes among employees about the SOPs in place. A running joke was as follows:
MCO: Must Come Office
CMCO: Confirm Must Come Office
EMCO: Everyday Must Come office
RMCO: Remember Must Come Office
FMCO: Forever Must Come Office
There are also some who raised the issue of wanting to stay at home, but had concerns on how this would affect their employment. As a helping hand, we’ve jotted down 3 things you should keep in mind about your rights as an employee.*
1. Can my employer insist that I come in to work?
No. Per both current and previous SOPs for a full MCO, unless you are working in an essential sector, your employer cannot insist that you attend to the place or premises of your workplace. Instead, they can ask you to work remotely (i.e. work from home) via the following methods;
i. Attend meetings and conference calls online
ii. Attend to client (queries and requests) via email and other relevant forms of communication
iii. Remain contactable during regular work hours
2. Will my salary change if I work from home?
No. As an employee, you are entitled to be paid as per you contract of employment.
A point to note however, is that employers facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic may need to introduce cost-cutting measures in terms of retrenchments, lay-offs and/or pay-cuts.
Referring to L&E Global, an FAQ write-up by Skrine has stated the following:
“Retrenchment should be in accordance to the general principles of industrial law, and retrenchment benefits may be payable. Temporary lay-offs and salary reduction may only be done after consultation and with the consent of the employees. Lay-off benefits may be payable under the Employment (Termination and Lay-Off Benefits) Regulations 1980. Where there is a collective agreement in place, all such action shall be taken in compliance with the same.”
3.My employers business falls under the essential service category per regulations; can they insist I come in to work?
If your place of work falls under the category of essential services, it can continue operating under the MCO- meaning that, yes, you will have to go in to work. However, employers have been advised to evaluate essential and non-essential departments for the operation of the business, and to encourage employees from ‘non-essential’ departments to work remotely- this serves to reduce the number of people present on the premises, making it easier to contain a spread of the virus should an infection occur.
*Disclaimer: The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. For further clarification, kindly seek advice from a trained legal professional.