Malaysian Employers Warned Against Abusing Foreign Worker Relief Plan

The Minister of Human Resources, V. Sivakumar, has issued a strong warning to employers not to misuse the Foreign Workers’ Wage Relief Plan, which was launched on January 17th. The plan is intended to meet the immediate labor needs of critical sectors, and employers should not use it to replace local workers with foreign ones. If employers are found to be using the plan in this way, they will violate Section 60M of the Employment Act 1955 and may be fined up to RM50,000. Approval of the foreign worker quota given will also be revoked.

Sivakumar issued the warning after reports were received that 102 local workers in Penang were disposed of and replaced by foreign workers. His office also received reports from the Bangladesh Diplomatic Representative that 117 workers from the country were not offered jobs upon arriving in Malaysia two weeks ago under the plan. Employers gave various reasons for not accepting these workers, including that they were not yet ready to accept them, despite having made the request earlier.

Sivakumar stressed that employers must not apply for foreign workers on a whim and then refuse to accept them when they arrive. Doing so can damage the country’s legal image, and it will make negotiations with source countries on the use of foreign workers, including domestic workers, more difficult. He warned that the irresponsible actions of a few employers have damaged the country’s image and credibility. The case can be investigated under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM 2007) and the Employment Act 1955.

Regarding the current status of the Bangladeshi workers, Sivakumar said they had been placed in a safe location. The Ministry of Human Resources is ready to help place them with other employers in need. The ministry will also enforce the plan simultaneously to ensure that there are no further violations by employers.

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