The outburst of the coronavirus victims since the early of March sparks uncertainty among the workers and employers in Indonesia. This effect mainly hit the greater area of Jakarta, the national epicenter of the outbreak.


Amidst the panic, bad news, hoax, and polarizations which spread through the social media, there is a comedy meme showing a WhatsApp conversation between an employee to his employer, the meme writes:


Employee: Good evening sir, due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, are we going to work from home tomorrow?

Employer: Good evening, for the employee who has not passed away yet, please come to the office as usual.

Employee: Alright, sir, thank you.

*not a real conversation


This is maybe just another bad joke to release the tensions in the middle of the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Indonesia. However, probably the reality could not be far less ironic, as the decision to work from home is not something that every business actor could afford. Meanwhile, the health situation in one way or another requires people to do a social distancing immediately because the spread of Covid-19 is mostly caused by direct person-to-person contact. Up until this article is published, the number of confirmed cases in Indonesia has reached no less than 1.100, yet to decide hard lockdown for all citizens will definitely cost collateral damage to the economic condition risking an economic collapse as the aftermath of this pandemic. So, what should the government do? Prof. Michael Levitt, a noble laureate biophysicist of Stanford University who accurately predicted the decline of the corona pandemic in China, could probably offer an insight. As quoted from the Los Angles Times[1], The professor affirms that what we need is to focus on the number of daily increase of victims, not the total number; if it began to ease off, then it is an early sign that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted. What we ought to control is the panic and do a reasonable distancing measure. He added that not to be panic is essential because the public health measures that have shut down large swaths of the economy could cause their own catastrophe, as lost jobs lead to poverty and hopelessness. The researchers have seen that suicide rates go up when the economy spirals down. The takeaway we can take from his opinion is a ‘reasonable social distancing’ based on the characteristics, and capability of a country, and a tailor-made strategy to slow down the spread of this pandemic.


National Legal Measures


In Indonesia, the law no 6 of 2018 in Health Quarantine Law is the legal basis for the government to impose restrictions on human movement. The law set fines and prison punishment for the resident who leaves the quarantined regions. However, this measure brings a consequence to the government to provide an adequate staple for its citizens. Recently the government is drafting a government regulation (Peraturan Pemerintah/PP) as an implementing regulation of this law pursuant to its article 10. This step is made to adjust the measure of limiting human movement based on Indonesian situations.


To date, The Ministry of Manpower has issued circular No. M/3/HK.04/III/2020 on Protection of the Interests of Employees and Ensuring Business Continuity. This circular intended for all of the heads of provinces in Indonesia. This circular instructs the Governor to take measures to:


  1. Prevent the spread and treatment of cases of COVID-19 arises in the workplace. The steps to be applied included as following:
  2. Record and report for each case of COVID-19 in the working place to the relevant agencies.
  3. Every employer is instructed to take anticipatory measures of the spread of COVID-19 among the workers by integrating hygienic practice to the workplace occupational and safety programs (K3), strengthening the role of workplace occupational health and safety committee (P2K3), and optimize the function of workplace health services.
  4. If people in the workplace are at risk, suspected, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID 19, the response procedures should adhere to the health standard by the Ministry of Health.


  1. Protect the wages for the employees during the Pandemic of COVID-19. The measures to be applied included as following:


  1. For the employees categorized as person-under-monitoring (Orang Dalam Pengawasan/ODP) of COVID-19 pursuant to a medical certificate issued by a doctor, who is unable to work up to 14 days or in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, their full wages shall be paid.
  2. For employees categorized as suspected of COVID-19 and are isolated pursuant to a medical certificate issued by a doctor, their full wages shall be paid.
  3. For employees with COVID-19 who are unable to work, as evidenced by a medical certificate issued by a doctor, their wages shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of the applicable laws and regulations.
  4. For employers that have to restrict their business activities due to the government regulations for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in their regions, where such regulations result in all or some of their employees not reporting to work, adjustments to wages and the manner of payment of wages may be implemented to ensure the continuity of their business activities according to the consensus between employer and employees.

Up until now some of the head of the provinces in Indonesia has issued measures and policies to apply this circular such as the Jakarta provincial manpower office circular no. 14/SE/2020 on Working From Home, and The West Java regional secretary circular no. 800/30/ BKD on Flexible Working Arrangement.


Widya Tuslian S.H., LL.M.

Lecturer of Law/ Director of Publication and Research of Djokosoetono Research Center(DRC)

The writer can be reached




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