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Employers Can Make It Mandatory Or Fire Staff Who Refuse Covid Vaccine

Employers Can Make It Mandatory Or Fire Staff Who Refuse Covid Vaccine

Legal experts weigh in on the issue.

Akmal Hakim

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Private employers have the legal right to make it compulsory for employees to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Law Faculty Senior Director Muhammad Umar Abdul Razak told Berita Harian that under Section 15 and 16 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (Act 514), employers have the power to do so to ensure the health and safety at the workplace.

Employers can also require their workers to sign new employment contracts which include the necessity for staff to be vaccinated. The contract cannot be challenged in court.

(Credit: fraihanher/Twitter/Malay Mail)

Employers, however, must take into consideration the employee’s right not to be vaccinated for health reasons.

The act also provides authority to an appointed safety officer to ensure workplace safety.

The UiTM lawman explained that based on Article 9 (3) of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Government have the power to enact “discriminatory” laws on the ground of public health and safety.

While the government can choose to amend these laws, it would need to pass through Parliament

Read More: Small Hall And Public Toilets Among Reasons Why Parliament Has To Be Suspended: MOH

Meanwhile, Lawyer Fahmi Abdul Moin described that there are no current laws that say it’s mandatory for a person to be vaccinated.

Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1998) does not place an offence on a person who refuses to receive the Covid-19 vaccine nor is it a criminal offence. Vaccine recipients must be voluntary without any element of coercion.

Lawyer Fahmi Abdul Moin via Berita Harian.

However, Fahmi said that employers must take strict action if workers reject the vaccine and put other employees at risk of Covid-19.

It is well understood that the workplace has been one of the main contributors to Covid-19 infection clusters in the country

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah previously revealed that 30% of Covid-19 clusters were traced back to workplace infections.

Read More: Health DG: 30% of Covid-19 Clusters Are From The Workplace

(Credit: tirachardz/Freepik)

In an interview with Malay Mail, Employment Lawyer Donovan Cheah explained that there were no laws that prevent employers from making mandatory vaccination policies and said that they can take disciplinary action or let go of staff who refuse vaccinations, depending on the circumstances.

While an employer cannot physically compel an employee to take the vaccine, an employee’s freedom of choice is not the same thing as freedom from consequences. There are no legal prohibitions against an employer implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, although how employers deal with breaches of this policy may be evaluated by the courts.

Employment Lawyer Donovan Chea via Malay Mail.

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