Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob has urged the private sector to offer emergency leave to employees affected by the massive floods that hit the country over the weekend. At least eight states, including all of central Malaysia, were suffering flooding by Sunday evening and at least 30,000 people have had to be evacuated to date.
On 19 December, the Prime Minister announced that the government is offering special emergency leave to civil servants affected by the floods, with immediate effect. They are not required to return to work on Monday, and will be allowed to remain on emergency leave until the floods subside and they can return to their homes and clean up.
"We understand their plight, so the government agrees to give emergency leave because of this disaster," said Ismail Sabri. "To civil servants who are affected by the floods, when they return to work, they can discuss with their respective department heads about the leave. I hope when they are able to return home, finish cleaning the house and so on, they can go back to work. As for now, we are giving them leave."
He further urged private sector companies to follow the government's lead and offer emergency leave to employees who are flood victims, saying that this emergency leave should not be deducted from annual leave, nor should employees' salary be deducted.
If the leave is for five days, it cannot be deducted from their salary. It should be paid leave,” he said.
Malaysia's employment laws do not require private sector companies to offer emergency leave, meaning that even during massive natural disasters, it is entirely up to employers' discretion whether or not to offer compassionate leave. However, the Prime Minister having to publicly call on the private sector to do so during the current flood situation doesn't speak well to that discretion. But on the bright side, the courts have also previously upheld the rights of employees who were fired for taking emergency leave.