Since the first reported case of COVID-19 on March 23, 2020, the Myanmar Government has published several guidelines for preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health and Sports has strengthened health and hygiene practices, to apply to different workplaces, as there is a move towards the reopening of businesses. Employers must ensure the health and safety of their employees and comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Law 2019, which includes a duty to appoint someone to closely supervise the occupational health and safety procedures within the relevant workplace. Employers must also report any suspected disease outbreak to the appropriate health officer authorised under the Communicable Diseases Law 1995.
Economic Relief Plan
The Government has also implemented the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (the “Relief Plan”) to manage the effects that COVID-19 has had on the economy. Some of the action plans include the implementation of labour-intensive community infrastructure projects for laid-off employees as well as the extension of social security benefits for such employees, and the promotion of low-cost funding to ease business financing.
It is crucial to note that employers whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 are unable to unilaterally (i.e. without first obtaining employee consent): reduce their workforce; reduce employee salaries; furlough employees; or terminate an employee’s employment without compensation. Employers must continue to pay the required amount of severance pay in the event of termination of employment, for whatever reason.
Employers in Myanmar should continue to familiarise themselves with the various guidelines, regulations and laws that they will need to comply with and measures they will need to implement going forward as a result of COVID-19. It is anticipated that the Government will continue to work on the Relief Plan and put measures in place to minimise the impact, as much as possible, of the pandemic on the economy.