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Can Being Vaccinated Be A Job Requirement?

Can Being Vaccinated Be A Job Requirement?

The law is not as clear cut about the issue as we thought.

Azizul Rahman Ismail

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According to Malaysian Employers Federation president, Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman, you might not even get a face-to-face interview if you are not vaccinated.

In an interview with The Star, Dr Syed cited Section 15 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.

It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all his employees.

Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994. Part 4, section 15, (1).

This means it is in the best interest of the employer not to risk turning their workplace into a cluster. This can be done by implementing reasonable safeguards such as enforcing the SOP and not accepting anyone who is not vaccinated. 

Can they force you to take the vaccine?

On the other hand, Labour and employment law expert Datuk Thavalingam Thavarajah in the same interview said that although employers can set vaccination as a pre-condition for new hires, they cannot mandate compulsory vaccination. 

This is because employers need the consent of their staff to give them a vaccination and every staff still has a right to refuse the vaccination. 

Of course, this also depends on the contractual terms and conditions of the employment. 

But not everyone can get the vaccine.

While completing the Covid-19 vaccine doses is highly endorsed, let’s not forget one of the reasons why Malaysia aims to achieve an 80% vaccinated rate among its citizens.

Achieving herd immunity means we can protect those who cannot take the vaccine for one reason or another.

As Malaysian Association of Hotels vice-president CS Lim pointed out, setting the vaccination as a strict term may exclude people who cannot be immunised against Covid-19 due to a variety of reasons, which are not limited to medical conditions, from normal life.

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