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‘Quarantine or be fired’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The garment workers leave from a factory in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district, April 8, 2020. Hong Menea

‘Quarantine or be fired’

In its latest measure to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has ordered all factory owners in Phnom Penh and the provinces to make a list of employees who took leave and returned to work despite the ban on travel between provinces and Khmer New Year holidays being postponed.

The list must be submitted to a labour inspector daily and the workers quarantined for 14 days.

In a stern warning to comply with the order, the ministry said employees who fail to comply could be fired without any compensation from their employer.

The order applies to all factories, enterprises and institutions, and is based on the Ministry of Health’s recommendation that all workers who took leave during the Khmer New Year to return to their hometowns be quarantined.

All employees and their employers in Phnom Penh and the provinces must abide by the order, it said.

It said if employees cannot self-isolate in their homes, due to protests from roommates or homeowners, they need to notify the ministry so it can prepare a place for them to complete their quarantine.

The ministry said employers are not obligated to pay employees undergoing quarantine if they took leave without permission.

However, if employees had permission to take leave, they are entitled to a payment equal to seven days’ wages during their quarantine.

Employees who took unpermitted leave because of special conditions such as childbirth or the passing of a close relative are entitled to full pay while in quarantine.

During quarantine, employees must contact their employer’s administration every day at 8am to report their health condition.

When employees complete quarantine, they will receive a letter from the authorities to be presented to their administration.

Once they are approved to work, they must wear masks in the workplace, which will be provided by their employer.

The ministry said: “Any worker who does not comply with the quarantine measures or violates the above measures and causes fear among other workers can be forced to resign without receiving any payment of benefits from the employer,” it said.

Last week, authorities confirmed more than 15,000 employees in Phnom Penh had taken leave during Khmer New Year.

Free Trade Union of Workers of Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) president Man Senghak believes requiring employees to self-isolate for 14 days is a penalty.

Senghak said workers who took leave during Khmer New Year should go through medical checkups and be allowed to work normally if they show no symptoms. Only those who are suspected of showing symptoms should be isolated, he said.

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