KUALA LUMPUR (April 25): The period between March 15 to April 20 this year saw 7,159 employees retrenched, the first five weeks of the movement control order (MCO), according to statistics provided by the Labour Department.

This number only includes those who were permanently retrenched and those retrenched under voluntary separation schemes (VSS), a Labour Department officer told Malaysiakini. The figure is expected to be higher if other categories are included, which is currently not available.

For comparison, in March and April 2019, there were 5,632 workers laid off across all categories, including VSS and permanent retrenchment. For the same period in 2018, the number of workers retrenched across all categories was 3,818.

The figures from 2019 and 2018 are publicly available under the Human Resources Ministry’s 2019 statistics report on employment and labour.

The Labour Department also provided Malaysiakini with the monthly breakdown of retrenched employees from January to March 2020.

A comparison between the three months over the three years showed that there were actually fewer employees being retrenched in 2020 up to March.

There was also a significant spike in workers being retrenched in January 2019, affecting 4,772 employees.

The full statistics for retrenchments in April 2020 are not yet available.

Malaysiakini attempted to contact the Labour Department and Socso for an explanation on the sharp increase in retrenchment in January 2019 but was redirected to the Human Resources Ministry which has yet to respond on the matter.

More retrenchments

Meanwhile, SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang told Malaysiakini that most small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia have started to lay off 20% to 30% of their employees.

“At the end of the month, there will be more,” he added.

On Jan 25, Malaysia recorded its first case of Covid-19 when a family from China travelled to Malaysia after making a stop in Singapore. In what is now referred to as the first wave of the outbreak, Malaysia had a total of 22 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

After 11 days of no new cases, the second wave began in late February in the midst of a transition from the collapsed Pakatan Harapan government to the newly formed Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

The cases began to increase significantly with the discovery of a cluster from the Sri Petaling tabligh gathering.

By March 18, Putrajaya had implemented a movement control order (MCO), which was yesterday extended for a third time to May 12.

Under the MCO, only essential services are allowed to operate within certain hours.

In the third phase of the MCO, several sectors were reportedly given the green light to resume operations in stages, including sectors which involve SMEs.

However, companies in these additional sectors are first required to submit their applications to the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI).

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