On 19 April 2021, the MLVT issued ‘Instruction 043 concerning the Payment of Wages for Early April (2021) and Additional Allowances for Employees in the Garment, Enterprise, Handicraft and Business sectors during the Phnom Penh and Takmao city lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19’ (“Instruction”).
The Instruction states that the temporary lockdown measures in Phnom Penh and Takmao City should be regarded as the de facto suspension of employment. In the interests of employee welfare, the Instruction directs organizations in the affected sectors to:
maintain employees’ positions and employment seniority during the lockdown period;
pay wages and salaries for the period 1-14 April 2021 in full and, if not yet paid, make such payments as soon as possible after the lockdown has ended; and
provide additional voluntary allowances to employees depending upon the employer’s financial resources, with such payments to be made as soon as possible after the lockdown has ended.
As the Instruction is silent on the payment of wages and salaries to personnel who cannot perform their work during the lockdown, it is arguable that the employment of affected personnel can be suspended during the lockdown. Article 72 of the Labour Law does not require an employer to pay wages or salaries during a suspension period, unless the law states or employer agrees otherwise. Nonetheless, as noted above, the Instruction encourages employers to pay voluntary allowances to affected personnel in accordance with the employer’s ability.
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