The Government’s move to make it mandatory for employers to pay the levy for foreign workers is to encourage them to take responsibility for their workers’ wellbeing.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low (pic) said the new ruling under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC) was to strengthen the hiring system so that foreign workers were not viewed as expendables.
However, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) had blasted the move, claiming it could cost the country’s economy RM5bil a year and that it was a bad deal for employers who also had to contend with the problem of workers running away.
“The employers have to bear the cost because it is in compliance with international labour conventions.
“If you treat workers decently, there’s no reason for them to run away,” Low said.
Most foreign workers are brought into the country via recruiting agencies, which then match them up with companies looking to hire.
The problem, Low said, was that these agents were bringing in too many workers, promising jobs, pay, terms and living conditions that have not been locked down.
“There is a detachment between employer and worker in terms of relationship and agreement of the job.
“When they get a job and it’s different from what they were promised, they get dissatisfied and run away,” he added.
“Then, on top of paying for their own levies, workers are charged up to RM10,000 by the recruiters.
“They may have to work for at least six months before they are able to earn any money for themselves, Low said.
This resulted in many leaving their jobs and ending up overstaying and becoming illegal immigrants, prompting enforcement efforts by the police and Immigration Department.
“We want to make sure that our policy on foreign labour is in line with our economic growth by reducing the number of foreign workers here.
“One day, if we have a serious recession and there are more foreign workers having jobs than the locals, there will be huge social problems,” he noted.
On top of paying the levies, the EMC also dictates that companies pay a minimum wage and insurance for their workers, secure them decent accommodation and pay an immigration deposit.
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