Jan 5, 2017

Foreign workers rejoice – but not the bosses


Foreign workers rejoice – but not the bosses

Kota Kinabalu: The decision requiring employers to pay the levy of their foreign workers effective Jan. 1 as announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamid, received mixed reactions from the parties concerned.

Foreign workers said it was a big financial relief, while employers believe the move would not only cause additional burden on them but will also encourage others to play cat and mouse with the authorities for obvious reason.

Ahmad Zahid over the weekend said employers would from now be responsible for paying the levy of their foreign workers effective Jan. 1 under the Employer Mandatory Commitment (EMC) which also means that employers are disallowed from deducting the levy from the wages.
"The EMC is to ensure employers are fully responsible for their workers from the time of their appointment to the time they returned to their countries," the Home Minister stressed.

He further said this change in policy would ensure employers are more responsible in taking care of their workers and avert cases of foreign workers running way, changing sectors of work illegally, and overstaying and becoming illegal immigrants.

Several Filipinos and Indonesians work permit holders in welcoming the announcement said the decision would inspire them to develop loyalty to their employers and at the same time be more effective and productive workers.

Presently, they said majority of them are paying their own levy through salary deducttions.

"Normally, employers will demand us to pay our own levy (salary deductions) ...if we do not agree with the demand would mean no hiring ," they ascertained.

With the new employment policy, they said foreign workers will now be in a better position to financially help their lovedones back home, more money to buy personal neessties while in the country, and improved ace of mind among others.

Towards this end, they thank the host government for looking after the welfare and interest of all the foreign workers in the country.

On the contrary, other employers are crying foul over the EMC policy especially now that Malaysia is facing some financial difficulties in the economy.

"Foreign workers need the help of the employers ... This is the reason why we are willing to comprise with them by first paying their levy and deduct the amount from the salary on a monthly basis," they said.

The employers said the government presently is imposing high levy for foreigner workers and the fee is greatly effecting the operations.

"We hope the government will consider reducing the current fees by 50 per cent to also protect the interest and welfare of employers particularly companies who requires big number of foreign workers like the manufacturing and construction sectors among others," they stressed.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said employers should abide by the Guidelines on the Minimum Standard of Foreign Workers Accomodisation whereby the workers would stay in accommodation provided by employers.

The minister also said the government would soon introduce a Letter of Undertaking that outlines the responsibilities and conditions every employer of foreign workers would have to observe.

He said the government is also reviewing the rate of security deposit imposed on employers who brought in foreign workers.

"The existing rate was too low and ineffective as a preventive measure to ensure that employers sent back their foreign workers to their countries of origin upon termination of their contracts."

Ahmad Zahid said the recruitment of foreign workers was a privilege granted to employers to meet the manpower needs of industries and help national economic growth.

However, there were employers who were not responsible for the workers they brought in and violated the provisions in the law and regulations.

Ahmad Zahid said the government had received reports that employers did not pay wages in accordance with the minimum wage, restricted the movement of foreign workers and kept their passports.

"There were instances where foreign workers ran away and the employers washed their hands off the matter and left it to the Immigration Department, police and other agencies to locate and send back the workers."

Such incidents gave room to irresponsible people to indulge in human trafficking."

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