Friday, March 18, 2011

Employers responsible for their workers - not outsourcing companies.

"We feel that employers are the people who should be responsible for their 
foreign workers. Outsourcing companies are only responsible for 
bringing them in. After that, employers must assume full responsibility."
- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

PUTRAJAYA: Employers of unskilled foreign workers will have to pay higher levies beginning next year.
The cabinet committee on foreign labour and illegal foreign workers, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, agreed yesterday that employers who hired unskilled workers would need to pay higher levies while the quantum for those employing skilled ones be lowered.

The amount will be announced after discussions to be held later between representatives of the various employment agencies.

Muhyiddin said all sectors employing foreign workers would be involved in determining suitable rates for the levy increase which would vary based on sectors, percentage of foreigners employed and their skills.

He said Malaysia recorded 25 million foreigners entering the country legally, of whom 23.6 million were tourists while 1.89 million came in as foreign workers.

"Our policy in the long term is to reduce dependency on foreign workers and we will do this gradually. We do not put a limit to the number as the country is fast developing.

"With the New Economic Model (NEM), we will be needing more skilled workers to ensure economic growth is not stunted.

"The focus now is on managing foreign workers well, based on our needs," he told a press conference after the meeting at the Implementation and Coordination Unit of the Prime Minister's Department.

The cabinet committee also agreed for an amnesty programme to be held as soon as a biometric system linked to all relevant agencies was in place. Muhyiddin said all agencies dealing with foreign workers would be able to access the system to better manage the workers and weed out illegal ones.

The Home Ministry has been given two weeks to coordinate and outline the initiatives to address the issues of foreign labour management, including the imposition of the levy.

Under the amnesty programme, Muhyiddin said illegal workers and employers who continued to harbour and employ them would be severely dealt with.

"During the amnesty period, we will not take action against those who overstay or work here illegally, but we will come down hard on them if they do not get out of the country when the amnesty expires."

The committee is also focused on making employers more responsible towards their workers, reducing the government's costs in handling the group and bringing down crime cases involving foreigners.

"We feel that employers are the people who should be responsible for their foreign workers. Outsourcing companies are only responsible for bringing them in. After that, employers must assume full responsibility."

The 17-member committee also discussed 50 recommendations by the foreign workers laboratory in managing foreign workers, including in the areas of supply and demand, systems and processes of engaging the groups as well as enforcement.

The committee is also mulling introducing "bonds" for each foreign worker employed, where the payment to the government could be forfeited for reasons, including if they absconded.

"We will see if this is feasible and we will talk with the relevant parties for their response," said Muhyiddin.

Members of the committee present included Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan. - New Straits Times, 21/5/2010, Higher levies for foreign workers

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