Imagine being employed for 34 years by a company and not taking even a single day of medical leave (MC). This is what a former general assistant at Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) accomplished.
And, even 15 years since he retired, this is something he enjoys recalling about his time with the corporation.
Never applied for sick leave
Kamaldin Mohd Abdullah, now 71, remembers the hardship and the importance of sacrifice from his three decades of work experience.
"I retired in August 2007, and every year as we approach Merdeka, I reflect on my working life," the septuagenarian said.
Kamaldin said that in the 34 years he worked for TNB, he never took or applied for sick leave, whether as a roadworker or a van driver. He began working with TNB when he was 22 years old.
He said he never considered requesting leave just because he had a headache, toothache, motorcycle problems, fever, or cough. Not even when he was involved in a work-related accident in which the van he was driving overturned.
Kamaldin explained that his "no medical leave" policy sprang from his idea that employees should be honourable in the same way they expect such qualities from their employers.
He stated that even though there was no ceremony to recognise his record of success because he was a non-executive employee, it made no difference to him.
"I know I gave it my all while working for TNB, and that's enough for me."
Employers must see their employees as assets
Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman, head of the Malaysian Businesses Federation, stated that all employers must recognise their staff as assets.
He stated that employers must work hard to establish a favourable and safe working environment.
He said that health is always first, which is why the MEF advocates a work-life balance policy. In addition, businesses must provide annual medical exams and enough medical insurance to protect their employees' health.
According to Syed Hussain, many organisations have employees who do not use their medical leave since they are healthy. He said that organisations should have sports clubs to encourage healthy activities.
He added that employers and employees must take responsibility for their health and that a healthy lifestyle requires good food habits, regular exercise, and enough sleep.
According to the Employment Act of 1955, an employee is entitled to 14 days of paid sick leave upon starting employment. When a person has worked for two years or more, the amount of sick days increases to 18 days, and 22 days when they have worked for five years or more.
If hospitalisation is required, an employee is entitled to 60 days of paid leave, regardless of the length of service.
On a related note, Malaysia is no new to medical certificate fraud, with entire syndicates dedicated to producing bogus medical certifications for sale.
"To rest" is a typical excuse for taking sick leave in Malaysia. This is especially true in light of the new "always available" work culture that has infiltrated corporations, where employees are expected to remain available even after office hours.
According to a survey conducted by Kisi, an American security solutions business, Kuala Lumpur has the world's third most overworked population and one of the worst work-life balances among 40 worldwide cities.
source: Malay Mail