Jakarta. The Manpower Ministry says a total of 1.7 million workers have either lost their jobs or been furloughed by their employers during the coronavirus pandemic. The number was recorded on May 27 and is expected to lead to a spike in the unemployment rate to 7 percent.
"That's already 58 percent of our projection that 2.9 million workers might lose their jobs during the pandemic," Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah said in a teleconference on Thursday.
According to data from the ministry, more than one million workers in the formal sector have been put on forced unpaid leave by their employers and 380,221 workers have been laid off.
Meanwhile, a total of 318,959 workers in the informal sector have also lost their jobs.
"The total number has not included migrant workers who have been sent home. We're still collecting their data," Ida said.
Covid-19 Task Force Chief Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo said a total of 15,343 Indonesian migrant workers had returned home through Jakarta and Bali and 79,444 through Batam, East Kalimantan and North Kalimantan.
Doni said some of the workers had refused to go home from their mandatory quarantine even though their Covid-19 tests had come back negative.
"A total of 783 workers have completed their quarantine, tested negative for Covid-19 and were allowed to go home. However, some have asked to stay at the quarantine center, a total of 202 at the moment," he said.
The workers who refused to leave quarantine did so because they had no jobs waiting for them at home. Some of them said they intend to find jobs in Jakarta or its satellite cities Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi.
The Manpower Minister said the unemployment rate could soon reach 7 percent or, worse still, 8.75 percent.
"We hope it will not go to two digits," she said.
The Manpower Ministry has meanwhile issued a policy requiring companies to set up a business continuity plan.
The minister said the plan must consider the different characteristics and risks of each business sector. She pointed out assessment and planning will be crucial for companies if they were to survive the pandemic.
"We want to ensure companies can provide protection for workers, maintain business sustainability under the new normal and ensure the Covid-19 health protocol is followed in all activities," Ida said.
She said the business continuity plan must include seven stages: recognizing business priorities, identifying pandemic risks, planning risk mitigation, identifying responses to pandemic impact, planning and implementing the business continuity plan, communicating the plan and testing the plan.
"They have to be done gradually so companies can resume their activities but still by following the health protocol," Ida said.