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I'm a programmer in Malaysia. I wrote a software module that will be used on a cruise ship that departs from Singapore and returns to Singapore, without going anywhere else.

My employer is requiring me to travel to Singapore and then go on the ship to provide support as the users start to use the software. I may need to be quarantined for 14 days before I leave Malaysia for Singapore, and another 14 days when I arrive back in Malaysia from Singapore, but our admin is checking on the exact requirements.

What rights do I have in this case?

  1. Can I refuse to go on the trip?
  2. Can I request for "insurance coverage" of some sort that:
    • pays damages if I die from COVID-19 as a result of the trip?
    • pays medical and quarantine costs?
    • pays compensation when stranded on the ship or in Singapore?
    • pays compensation for long term medical complications as a result of COVID-19 infection?
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    I would advise you to talk to your Union. Usually they are on your side, and they are well informed about current issues and labour rights. Sep 23 '20 at 9:15
  • @WorkingHard_Guy Does Malaysia even have a union for IT professionals?
    – nick012000
    Sep 25 '20 at 2:00
  • Unfortunately, we don't have a union. In Malaysia IT professionals typically do not have unions. The same could be said for most employees. The rare exceptions are large factories and banks. Sep 25 '20 at 4:57
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You should start by thinking about what exactly you want to ask for. For example:

  • Extra pay due to being quarantined for work for 672 hours.
  • Health insurance policy covering long term effects of COVID-19 exposure.
  • Suitable PPE for your trip.

These things may be difficult for your company to provide, particularly insurance as there probably aren't many policies that will pay out large sums if you get infected and need life-long treatment for symptoms, reduced lifetime earnings etc.

Extra pay should be an easy one though, and you could suggest they offer something else in lieu such as extra holiday time.

If you really just don't want to go then it's probably a Health and Safety issue. Ask for a risk assessment of the trip.

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I'd say, before jumping into the discussion about "rights", you should ask these questions to the concerned people (your reporting manager/ HR / Travel department PoC) and try to get an answer. Most likely in the present situation with COVID around, organizations are flexible enough to provide the required security / coverage or flexibility to carry out their work in a safe and secure manner.

If you are denied of your expected answers, then you can think about rights an for that you need to check your employment contract and local laws - job for a lawyer.

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