Friday, April 24, 2009

Wages banked in - but alas boss not allow me to go to bank to withdraw money - Plight of the Foreign Domestic Worker

Wages must be paid monthly (or weekly ...or daily...or fortnightly) by the employer to the worker. It can be paid directly to the worker in cash...

What a worker does with the money is the worker's choice.

The worker also should be allowed to determine whether the wages should be banked into the worker's bank account or not.

It is thus ODD that the Malaysian government is trying to make it mandatory that wages of foreign domestic workers be banked in .... and the rationale for this 'new law' is because "....At present the wages were kept by the employers and this had led to abuse where the maids were not paid their dues,...the move was necessary to ensure that the maids were not victimized and deprived of their remunerations..."

What reforms are needed with regard to wages of domestic workers? There are many, and some of it are as follows

a) Wages should be paid every month by the employer to the domestic worker. [Make the failure to do so an offence with a stiff penalty]. There must also be no deductions from wages save for those that are explicitly permitted by law, and there should be a requirement for a pay slip.

b) Domestic Workers must be accorded with freedom of movement - including the ability to go to banks to open accounts, deposit and withdraw money. It is this inability that forces many maids to ask their employer to hold on to their wages for 'safekeeping' - and this is done because of lack of choice brought about by the lack of this freedom of movement. [Hence, one day off per week, plus number of working hours per day, and freedom to go out to the bank. etc must be made law for domestic workers...]

c) All foreign workers be allowed to open on their own regular saving (and fixed deposit) accounts in Malaysian banks just like any other Malaysian. No need for special accounts anymore. They should be permitted to open as many accounts as they want - and they should be allowed to use phone-banking and internet-banking facilities as well. [Maybe Banks may not want to give foreigners credit cards or loans - but really there is no rationale for the current restrictions [difficulties and conditions] to foreigners opening regular saving accounts, fixed deposit accounts, current accounts, etc...]

"My money has in the bank account - but alas since my employer does not allow me freedom of movement, I cannot go to the bank and hence I have no pocket money - hence more dependent on my employer - more a slave..." - Is this what is going to happen?

Focus, on real worker rights for domestic workers - similar rights as provided by law for all other workers in Malaysia.

Employers will soon have to credit the wages of their maids into banks or other financial institutions, outgoing Human Resources Ministry secretary general Datuk Thomas George said.

He said this would be effective with the amendments to the Employment Act 1955 which were in the pipeline.

At present the wages were kept by the employers and this had led to abuse where the maids were not paid their dues, he said yesterday.

In his keynote address at the National Consultation on ILO decent work agenda for domestic workers, he said the move was necessary to ensure that the maids were not victimised and deprived of their remunerations.

His speech was delivered by Industrial Relations Department director-general Mohd Yunus Razzaly.

George has been transferred to the Works Ministry as its secretary general effective yesterday.

He acknowleged that there were gaps in the present procedures for hiring maids but said the ministry was working to overcome them.

George added that the ministry had established a technical committee comprising members from all the relevant departments and agencies to address outstanding issues on the legal aspects, welfare and protection of foreign workers, including maids.

On the ILO’s intention to draw up a convention on domestic workers, George said Malaysia welcomed it, provided that it met national needs and did not turn out to be liability to both the workers and the employers.— Bernama :- Star, 24/4/2009, Bosses will soon have to bank in maids’ pay

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