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N Garden Sheds Enterprise JM0621850-U
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Govt to study hiring of foreign workers - N Garden Sheds Enterprise

Govt to study hiring of foreign workers

11-Apr-2010

2010/02/23

By Sean Augustin
sean@nst.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: The government will set up a laboratory to study the recruitment of foreign workers and the role of outsourcing companies on the matter.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said it would comprise representatives from other ministries and related agencies, and headed by the Home Ministry.

He said the laboratory would be given two months to provide feedback on matters such as policies, recruitment procedures, role of outsourcing companies and agents and the laws involved.

He added that it would make recommendations on the steps to be taken to ensure the hiring of foreign workers was according to needs.

"This is to ensure tighter conditions for the hiring of foreign workers. For example, if a company wants to hire foreign workers, the Home Ministry will assess the situation to see whether they really need them.

"The laboratory will also review the existing system to ensure foreign workers return to their home countries once their contract expires," he said after chairing a cabinet committee on foreign workers and illegal immigrants here yesterday.

Present were Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

Based on Immigration Department records, as at the end of last year, there were some 1.59 million foreign workers with valid permits, compared with 2.06 million at the end of 2008.

Muhyiddin said the drop was because of the weak economic situation last year, where employers reduced foreign worker headcount, including expatriate workers.

On outsourcing companies and agents, the deputy prime minister said a study had to be conducted because there was some ambiguity on the status of the employer.

"At present, the outsourcing company is assumed to be an employer but this should not be the case. The end-user should be the employer."

There are now 277,000 outsourcing companies, but with only half of them active.

Muhyiddin said the laboratory would review their role so that they acted only as intermediaries in the recruitment of foreign workers.

"Because of this ambiguity, we have yet to hear of an employer breaking the law or facing legal action," he said, adding that outsourcing companies that did not function effectively or flouted regulations risked having their licences revoked.

Muhyiddin also said ministries that had the authority to approve the hiring of foreign workers must exercise caution to prevent abuse.


Citing an example, he said the spa industry hired foreign workers but instead of working where they should be, they became masseuses.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (right) speaking to Home Minister Datuk Seri
Hishammuddin Hussein and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (standing)
after the cabinet committee on foreign workers meeting yesterday. — Bernama picture
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (right) speaking to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (standing) after the cabinet committee on foreign workers meeting yesterday. — Bernama picture

This, he said, violated the permits issued and stern action would be taken against the culprits if caught.

He said the same applied to frontline staff at hotels. Such practices, said Muhyiddin, did not augur well for the growth of the tourism industry.

"Locals should be hired as frontline staff because they can showcase Malaysian culture, tradition and the language."

Muhyiddin said another aspect for the laboratory was the actual costs involved in the hiring of foreign workers, such as levy payments, wages and medical and hospitalisation costs at government hospitals.

Bernama reported Hishammuddin as saying that the first meeting of the laboratory to study recruitment of foreign workers would be conducted without delay.

He said the meeting would involve eight ministries, 15 agencies and several state governments, with his ministry acting as the secretariat.

"I think what is important is that (Deputy Prime Minister) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has expressed the commitment of the cabinet committee (on foreign workers) to look at a total review of the hiring of foreign workers.

"The fact that other stakeholders like employers and outsourcing companies will be included in the discussions indicates the importance given to this issue," Hishammuddin said.

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