HR Minister says employees could face fines or jail for refusing vaccinations. Is this legal?

Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan caused a stir late last week when he was widely reported (see Bernama, Malay Mail, The Star) as saying that action could be taken against employees who refuse to be vaccinated. While recognising that vaccinations have not been made mandatory under Malaysian law, Saravanan said that the authorities could take action under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“OSHA”).

The legal position regarding mandating employee vaccinations has been widely-discussed in recent weeks, and I’ve previously shared my views on this blog (“Is it legal for Malaysian employers to make vaccinations mandatory for employees?”), as well as with the media (“Can Malaysian employers make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for their staff? Lawyers explain.”).

So what exactly does OSHA provide, and can the authorities really rely on OSHA to take action against employees who refuse to be vaccinated?

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5 Things Companies Need to Know About the Amendments to Occupational Safety Laws

Kwan Will Sen and Muayyad bin Khairulmaini write about the amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Bill 2020 (“OSHA Bill”) was tabled for the first reading in Parliament by the Minister of Human Resources, YB Datuk Seri Saravanan A/L Murugan on 2 November 2020. Once passed, the OSHA Bill will introduce significant amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“Act” or “OSHA 1994”).

With discussions on reform to Malaysian Occupational Health and Safety laws being mooted as early as 2018, the OSHA Bill 2020 touches on several key areas with a goal to facilitate the provision of a safe working environment for all employees nationwide.

We touch on five key amendments introduced in the OSHA Bill below. In particular, directors of companies must be aware of the risk of their personal liability and the risk of being jointly charged for occupational health violations. Continue reading