Lawmakers call for better deal for employees
Although officials point to a gradual recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic, lawmakers worry that ordinary workers are being given short shrift.
Macao’s economy is moving away from contraction, and a rapid economic recovery is the solution to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the employment situation, according to Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong.
Lei made his predictions while speaking to lawmakers at the Legislative Assembly.
A number of lawmakers said that the impact of the pandemic on Macao’s economy has shown that the city’s current system is unable to protect employees affected by furloughs or employers defaulting on wage payments.
Lawmaker Ella Lei Cheng I noted that the government has abolished the system which required employers to compensate employees affected by furloughs. She said that many employees have been forced to take unpaid leave due to the pandemic, which she said indicated the necessity of a system supporting employees affected by temporary layoffs. She urged the government to roll out measures to help those affected by layoffs.
Lawmakers Leong Sun Iok, Sulu Sou Ka Hou, Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong urged the government to gain a better understanding of the number of employees who have been forced to take unpaid leave so that it would be able to devise effective measures to support them.
Sou said that a long furlough is equivalent to a reduction in an employee’s salary. He noted that employers are required to notify the Labour Affairs Bureau if they reduce their employees’ salaries, but they are not required to inform the bureau if they require their employees to take unpaid leave. He said that the government should set a statutory maximum duration of unpaid leave.
However, lawmaker Mak Soi Kun said that the most important task for the government was to ensure the city’s economic recovery, and now was not the right time to discuss possible improvements in its system of supporting employees affected by furloughs or employers defaulting on their wage payments.
Mak also urged the government to come up with more measures to speed up Macao’s Covid-19 vaccination rate with the aim of accelerating the city’s economic recovery.
The policy secretary did not reveal whether the government would improve its system of supporting employees affected by furloughs or employers defaulting on their wage payments, The Macau Post Daily reported.
Macao’s top economic affairs official said that based on Macao’s current situation, recovering its economy as soon as possible was the most important way to solve the various predicaments affecting employees.