PETALING JAYA: Retail workers should not be asked to pay for their Covid-19 vaccinations as all costs should be borne by their employers, says the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
This comes after the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK) proposed that workers pay a reduced charge of RM50 for on-site vaccinations after malls agreed to subsidise the costs of the exercise.
MTUC deputy president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani said it was not the right thing to do as the vaccines used during this exercise were free under the government’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Effendy said that even if the cost of the exercise was subsidised, it was unfair for employees to pay for their vaccines.
“These workers are there to help operate their employer’s business and, therefore, the vaccination should be part of the employer’s responsibility and obligation,” he said.
He said this was still cheaper for employers in the long run as it would be more expensive to treat employees who tested positive for Covid-19.
“The employers will need to cover the medical costs or pay for the employees’ sick leave and this will cost even more,” he said.
Effendy said it was important for all retail workers to understand that vaccines provided by the government were free, adding that if they were forced to pay for their vaccines, a report may be made to MTUC.
Meanwhile, Klang MP Charles Santiago said the government should be the one to absorb all vaccination costs for the workforce.
Santiago said employers and employees were already burdened with problems such as layoffs, taking pay cuts and reduced work hours.
“There is no need to put more financial strain on them. This will further aggravate existing problems faced by retail companies during the pandemic,” he said.
He said that by now, there should be a better way of handling this problem and a more “thinking outside of the box” approach could be implemented.
He proposed that since there were many clinics surrounding shopping malls, vaccinations could be done there instead. This way, the government would bear the cost of the vaccinations.
“Shopping malls can identify three or four clinics in their area and partner with these clinics to help administer vaccines for employers and employees.
“Since shopping malls are spread all over, there also won’t be long lines for them to get their vaccines.
“This way, the government will pay the doctors to help administer the vaccines and (the) management will not need to pay for them at all,” he said.