Manufacturers: New rules on hiring migrant workers too rigid, costly

THE new regulations imposed by the Government on hiring migrant workers is too restrictive and would affect employers’ who are struggling financially due to the current economic upheaval.

“Plus, just allowing the big corporations – but not small and medium enterprises (SME) – to bring in new workers would not solve the overall labour shortage.

“Large companies need SMEs support in their supply chain to manage operations. Labour shortage in the industry is not just based on the size of the organisations,” Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers’ (FMM) president Tan Sri Datuk Soh Thian Lai pointed out.

Last month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin announced that the Government plans to “regularise” undocumented migrant workers so they can be legalised subject to certain conditions.

The programme called Undocumented Migrant Recalibration Plan will also allow undocumented migrants to return home voluntarily. It will expire on June 30 next year.

“This plan will be implemented by the Immigration Department, the Labour Department of Peninsula Malaysia and other Government agencies without the involvement of third parties,” Hamzah was reported saying.

Touching on some of the conditions, Soh said the industry is against the idea of big corporations covering the costs of deporting illegal migrant workers in order to bring in new legal ones.

“Employers are not responsible for the illegal stay of these workers and should not be burdened with their repatriation.

“Companies that bring in foreign workers via the proper channels are already paying a bank guarantee between RM250 and RM1,500 per worker depending on the nationality of the migrant worker.

“This bank guarantee is meant to cover the cost of repatriation should the worker abscond. Imposing additional conditions on employers amid the COVID-19 pandemic recovery period will be damaging on industries that are already struggling with many other cost challenges,” he lamented.

While the idea to source for workers among the illegal ones is welcomed, Soh said it is important that the plan is managed well as there might be negative consequences to the legalisation process.

For starters, he said migrant workers could still abscond after getting legalised due to the poor tracking system.

“It could encourage unlawful job hopping amongst the legal workers too,” cautioned Soh.

“So, we proposed to the Government to allow legalisation and re-employment of these workers without additional cost to the employer except for the cost for a work permit, passport and visa and allow employers to filter and screen the workers.”

If such proposal is allowed, the cost impact on the employer would be minimal even if the worker absconds after the legalisation process.

“Such migrant workers should later be blacklisted and deported with the assistance of their respective embassies,” he added. – Dec 15, 2020.

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