Control and Support Measures in Myanmar Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar government has introduced a number of measures to manage the spread of COVID-19, and provide relief to businesses, individuals, employers and employees affected by the outbreak.
On 25 March 2020, the President's Office with the advice of the Ministry of Health and Sports ("MOHS"), issued Letter No. 70(23)/1 to all Regional and State Governments on Preventive and Precautionary Measures of COVID-19 ("Letter"). The Letter instructed all Regional and State Governments to allow only 50% of the employees in the government offices and departments to work during office hours. It also instructed the government offices and departments to: (i) report any person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 in the office, department, dormitory or within the neighbourhood to the relevant health authority without delay; (ii) restrict guests coming to the residence of the employees; and (iii) restrict employees from leaving the workplace during office hours without permission.
In addition to the above, the Ministry of Labour ("MOL") also issued a set of notifications and directives for employers and employees registered under the Social Security Regime.
On 20 March 2020, MOL issued Directive 1/2020 ("Directive") stating that Cut- Make-Pack ("CMP") Factories and Workshops, Hotel and Tourism companies, and other medium and small business enterprises economically afflicted by COVID-19 ("Afflicted Businesses") which have been temporarily or permanently shut down, or whose number of labourers has been reduced, are permitted to be exempted from Social Security Board ("SSB") contribution payments. Under the Directive, employees and labourers affected by the temporary or permanent shut down of the Afflicted Businesses due to COVID-19 ("Afflicted Employees") are entitled to medical benefits and financial benefits (i.e. 60% of the previous salary) of up to six months of unemployment if the person becomes sick during the term of unemployment from the SSB.
On 20 March 2020, the MOL also issued Notifications 63 and 64/2020 allowing the Afflicted Businesses to make SSB contribution payments no later than three months from the end of the relevant month, as opposed to the previous 15-day requirement. The Notifications also allow the Afflicted Employees to be entitled to Health Protection, and Medical and Travel Benefits of up to one year from the time of unemployment.
Most recently, on 19 April 2020, MOL issued an Announcement that MOL and MOHS will inspect factories, workplaces and workshops from 20 April 2020 to 30 April 2020. During this period, only qualified factories are allowed to open and operate subject to MOL's approval.
Inspection is to be conducted in the following order of priority:
- Pharmaceutical factories;
- Food manufacturing factories;
- Factories, workshops and departments that are ready for re-operation in line with health instructions;
- Factories and workshops with more than 1,000 workers; and
- Other factories, workshops and departments.
The approval for allowing businesses to operate will depend on whether the employers meet serveral criteria including the following:
- employees who are sick, pregnant and living together with a suspected person are allowed to stay home;
- provision of a ferry, hand sanitisers and surgical masks to the employees;
- work arrangement involving small groups working alternatively; and
- provision of a hygienic workplace.
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Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only
intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.