Friday, December 11, 2009

Ministry should not scrap random check of workplaces of domestic workers

Should the Labour Department officials be making random checks at workplaces to ensure that workers are treated right and not abused, that the working conditions are in compliance with existing law, that the requisite occupational health and safety standards are complied with...?

Yes, they should, and they have been doing this 'spot checks' sometimes randomly, sometimes on receipt of a 'tip-off' or information.

For domestic workers, their workplace is the home of their employers - and it is good that they do random checks on the condition of the worker, the working condition and living condition. The fact that they will be doing such checks will also deter employer from abusing workers..

It is sad that the government is scrapping this plan, in favour of briefing to employers. and domestic workers.

If both the employer and his/her domestic worker is in the same room, then it less likely that the domestic worker will honestly point out the non-compliance of laws by the employer.

If there is going to be sessions for domestic workers, then it should be done with these workers alone, and it should be more than a briefing. It must be an opportunity for the worker to also talk about the working/living conditions - and maybe even complain.

When should it be done? Maybe 3 months after they have been employed as a domestic worker. When they start work, there already exist briefings/legal education both in the country of origin , here in Malaysia when they arrive and/or by the agents concerned.

Do we need special briefings for employers ...Do not waste public funds. Best to provide employers with educational pamphlets/booklets, that should be available in all the main languages - Bahasa Melayu, English, Chinese, Tamil, Kadazan, Iban, ...

Employers are also busy people. And time is money. When will the briefings be held? Will the employer have to waste one day annual leave to attend? Or will this be taken a 'paid public holiday'?

We really do not need 'briefing sessions' for employers - but it will be good to have session for the domestic worker.

The proposed sessions for domestic workers, if held after 3 months (and thereafter every 6 months) will be good - for this will be an opportunity for the workers to also inform the Labour Department about their concerns/complaints/

But, there should still be that random checks at the it happens for all other workplaces in Malaysia

The proposed random house-to-house visit to check on the welfare of maids, supposed to have begun this month, has been scrapped.

Instead, employers and their foreign maids would soon be required to attend a special dialogue session at the Human Resources Ministry, said Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam.

“This will ensure that the employers and maids are aware of the do’s and don’ts,” he told reporters after a meeting with the ministry’s trainers and trainees, here yesterday.

“My officers will give detailed information on the laws and rules governing maids, and the employers’ responsibilities,” he said.

Such a session, he said, was better than the proposed random house-to-house check.

Several employers, when interviewed, questioned the viability of having such dialogues.
Entrepreneur Normah Jaafar, 44, asked whether the ministry had thoroughly considered the implications of the dialogue suggestion as the logistics involved would be enormous.

“Will the authorities have enough manpower to handle the dialogues which will involve the 300,000-odd households with maids?” asked the Shah Alam resident.

Businessman Jeffrey Tan from Sunway Tropicana said the idea for the dialogue was as bad as the house-to-house visit proposal.

“There is already an in-built mechanism to protect the maids. If they are abused by their employers, they can go to the police,” he said. - Star, 11/12/2009, Ministry scraps house-to-house maid checks

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