Socso confirms Covid-19 is an occupational disease eligible for workers’ compensation

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Health workers in protective suits are seen at Selangor Mansion in Jalan Masjid India April 6, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — In response to a plea from 51 labour groups, the Social Security Organisation (Sosco) has clarified that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is recognised as an occupational disease.

Socso said the contraction of diseases such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other forms of coronavirus in the line of duty was already addressed in the 5th Schedule of Employment Social Security Act 1969 as an occupational disease.

The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is a strain of SARS, as indicated by its name of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

“Claims for compensation for employees who are infected with Covid-19 due to their direct exposure to the disease from their nature of work can be made to the organisation as this is deemed to be an occupational disease,” Socso said in a statement issued today.

“Similarly, employees who are infected due to their exposure arising out of and in the course of their employment will also be covered under the Employment Injury Scheme,” it read.

Socso explained the classification to recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease applies to both the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969 and the Self Employment Social Security Act 2017.

“In addition, patients who are infected from any other source and sustain permanent disablement, causing invalidity or death, may also be compensated through the Invalidity Pension Scheme of the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969,” read the statement.

Socso’s clarification comes in response to a Malay Mail article published on April 2, that reported the plea of the 51 worker groups calling on the government to recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease, and for required amendments instead be made to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.

The group also pushed for laws compelling employers to provide safe working environments for their staff, specifically pointing out those working in essential services and workers who are forced to stay at provided accommodations.

Among the notable inclusions among the group of 51 signatories are the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), WH4C (Workers Hub For Change), MTUC Sarawak, the PKNS Union, and the National Union of Flight Attendants (NUFAM).

When acknowledging Covid-19’s effects on the health, finances and social wellbeing of workers and the entire nation, Socso also vowed to continue playing its role and provide assistance to those in need during these unprecedented times.

“These workers may be affected due to their nature of work which increased their risk to infection, such as frontline healthcare workers or it may affect workers in relation to their employment such as exposure from infected persons while doing their work.

“The organisation dynamically adapts to the situation to provide assistance to its contributors within the mandate of the law,” it added.



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