As of 5 May 2020, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Myanmar is 161 and 6 deaths have been reported. The number of patients who have recovered stands at 49. The Government has, as of now, locked down ten townships in Yangon, Myanmar. On 17 April 2020, the Yangon Regional Government also issued a 10pm to 4am curfew order for all townships in Yangon except Coco Kyun Township, which will be effective for 2 months from 18 April 2020.
The Ministry of Health and Sports (“MOHS”) and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (“MOLIP”) have issued instructions, notifications and announcements on the control and prevention of COVID-19 in factories, establishments and workplaces. Under the Instruction on COVID-19 control and prevention dated 19 April 2020 published by the MOHS (“MOHS Instruction”), factories, establishments, workplaces and construction sites must have the following arrangements on the control and prevention COVID-19, among others:
- Work from home arrangements (for the employees who can properly work from home);
- Physical distancing (for work places which cannot implement work from home methods);
- Directing the wearing of masks and gloves by all employees and providing adequate quantities of such personal equipment (“PPE”);
- Staff sickness control measures;
- Entrances/exits of the factories, establishments and workplaces;
- Cleanliness and disinfection;
- Meal and rest times;
- Arranging proper ventilation in workplaces; and
- Regular cleaning and maintenance (and recording thereof) of internal air-conditioning components.
The MOLIP published an announcement dated 19 April 2020 (“MOLIP Announcement”) which addressed factories, workplaces and departments to follow the instructions and suggestions of the MOHS on the control and prevention of COVID-19. Under the MOLIP Announcement, the factories, workplaces and departments must be inspected by the inspection team using the prescribed inspection form issued by the MOHS. The inspection period runs from 20 to 30 April and the factories, workplaces and departments can be re-opened with the approval of the inspection team after passing inspection.
On 3 May 2020, the MOLIP has issued an instruction which categorizes business and services under three heads, namely, essential businesses, public services and essential public services which are essential for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses and services may continue to operate after complying with the requirement specified by the MOHS to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of complying with the orders of the MOHS must be submitted for joint inspection by the MOHS and MOLIP.
In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, some factories have permanently shut down and some have temporarily ceased operations. As of April 2020, at least 15 out of 500 factories have permanently shut down while five have temporarily ceased operations with many employees losing their jobs.
The MOLIP issued official Instruction No. 1/2020 on 20 March 2020, under which the factories and workshops registered with the Social Security Board (“SSB”) in accordance with the Social Security Law must notify the SSB if they have permanently shut down or temporarily ceased their operations or reduced their workforce. If the SSB finds out that factories and workshops have actually shut down or temporarily ceased the operations, they will be exempt from having to contribution social security payments on behalf of their employees. However, the factories and establishments must notify the SSB if they re-open their businesses within ten days from the re-opening date and must re-start payments to the SSB in order to obtain benefits under the Social Security Law.
During the period of the COVID-19 outbreak, the SSB and MOLIP have issued notifications in relation to social security benefits for the insured workers. The benefits that can be availed of by the insured workers under the Social Security Law, Rules and Notifications issued by the SSB and MOLIP are as follows:
|Sr.No||Eligible Person||Benefit||Income Replacement||Duration of entitlement||Requirements||Reference|
|1||Currently SSB insured workers under quarantine||Sickness cash benefit||60% of monthly salary (based on the average monthly salary for the last four months)||
(quarantined at a facility for 21 days and home quarantine for 7 days)
|Minimum 6 months’ registration with the SSB and 4 months’ of contributions to the SSB||SSB Notification No. 11/2020|
|2||Currently SSB insured workers who are sick (including COVID-19 cases)||Sickness cash benefit||60% of monthly salary (based on the average monthly salary for the last four months)||26 weeks maximum||Minimum 6 months’ registration with the SSB and 4 months’ of contributions to the SSB||Social Security Law 2013 and Social Security Rules 2014|
|3||Currently SSB insured pregnant women||Maternity cash benefit||60% of monthly salary (based on the average monthly salary for the last four months)||8 weeks at a time up to a maximum of 26 weeks||For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis as per MOHS guidelines||SSB Instruction No. 9/2020|
|4||Currently SSB insured workers impacted by temporary factory closures for inspection between 20 April to 30 April||Income support||40% of the level of January 2020 salary||Starting from 20 April 2020 until the factory is allowed to reopen||Workers must be insured and have contributed up to January 2020||MOLIP Notification No. 83/2020|
|5||Ex-SSB insured workers who get laid off due to factory closure||Sickness cash benefit||60% (average salary for the last 4 months)||
|Minimum 6 months’ registration with the SSB and 4 months of contributions to the SSB||MOLIP Notification No. 1/2020 and 64/2020|
|Medical reimbursement||Depends on the amount claimed||12 months||Must be registered with the SSB|
All residents in Myanmar including employers and employees must comply with all notifications, directives, announcements and orders issued by the MOHS, MOLIP and other relevant authorities from time to time (the “Rules”). Anyone who violates any of the Rules shall be subject to fines and/or imprisonment in accordance with the relevant law such as The Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law 1995, the Natural Disasters Management Law 2013 and other relevant laws.
The information provided here is for information purposes only, and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from qualified legal counsel for all specific situations.
Partner & Managing Director, DFDL Myanmar/Singapore
Partner, Deputy Managing Director & Head of Banking and Finance Practice, DFDL Myanmar
Legal Adviser, DFDL Myanmar