Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unjust to compel Migrant Workers in Malaysia to pay higher rates for healthcare in government hospitals?

As it is foreigners, including migrant workers, are paying 1st class rates at hospitals - which is already too much especially for migrant workers. This policy and practice is not right since we are talking about healthcare. See Migrant Workers should not be charged 1st class rates at government hospitals in Malaysia

Wrong for Malaysia toeven further increase healthcare charges for foreigners - migrant workers? foreign spouse? students?

Migrant workers should only be paying normal rates just like any other worker. After all, are they not already helping the economy of Malaysia -  as workers. 

Further, there is annual LEVY collected for every migrant worker, which the employer naturally  pays since the object was also to 'deter' employers from hiring migrant workers. But alas, special permissions was given to some employers on their applications for them them to recover these levy monies (and sometimes other monies) from migrant workers themselves - usually by means of 'wage deductions' or 'advancements'. This unjust and unscrupulous practice after much complaints was finally stopped in April 2009.
The rationale behind getting employers to bear the levy was to discourage them from employing foreigners, he Labour Director-General Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim] said.
- Bernama- Star, 16/4/2009, Employers can deduct levy from wages, again
But, then in  '...The Cabinet today decided that payment of foreign worker levy should be fully borne by the worker, and not the employer, with immediate effect....' - - BERNAMA, 30/1/2013,  Foreign Workers To Bear Levy Payment With Immediate Effect {See All workers entitled to Minimum Wages, that is Basic Wages - if employers can deduct levy, allowances, etc - Workers lose)

Why this shift in policy? Well, the employers complaint that they forking out more money if they are now required to pay migrant workers minimum wages...  This is so lame. It was even sadder that the obligation of payment of minimum wages by certain employers was delayed until 1/1/2014 - hence there would have been a case of discrimination at the workplace, when local workers were being paid at a higher rate compared to the fellow workers who were foreigner for doing the same work. Now, with the imposition of Levy Payment, obligation to pay premiums for that Foreign Workers Hospitalisation Insurance scheme, etc ... migrant workers, I would say, are being discriminated.

Well, many employers get their migrant workers to work long hours - even up to 12 hours per day far above international standard. Normal hours of work is 8 hours per day, but then the employers use overtime. Malaysia's law sets the overtime limit at 104 hours per month - and that allows employers to compel workers to work an additional 4 hours per day. This is draconian - since the limit a worker is required to work should not be more than 48 hours a week, and certainly no more than 60 hours a week (i.e. including 12 hours overtime). By international standards, the overtime limit should not exceed 48 hours a month - but Malaysia's limit is now 104 hours? The reality today, is that when an employer tells a worker that he has to work overtime, the worker really has no choice in the matter but has to work...  So, the employer's assertion that he has to pay so much more when he has to pay migrant workers minimum wages was also to linked to the much longer workers that his migrant workers were already working...

Sector levy per person/ year levy per person/ year (in RM)
  Peninsular Malaysia Sabah/ Sarawak/ Labuan
  Old New Old New
Manufacturing & Construction 1200 1250 960 1010
Plantation 540 590 540 590
Agriculture 360 410 360 410
Services in:
- Restaurant, Washing & Cleaning, Cargo Handling, Launderette, Caddy, Hair Dresser, Wholesale & Retail Business, Textile Business, Scrap and Used Metal 1800 1850 1440 1490
- Welfare Home 600 650 600 650
- Resort Island 1200 1250 960 1010
Domestic Maids
- First maid 360 410 360 410
- Second maid and so forth 540 590 540 590

(Note, the above rates are as per September 2011) 
Now, levy payments give the Malaysian government an annual revenue of more than RM2.5 billion - is that not enough to justify migrant workers FREE or at  least at the same rate as other Malaysian workers?  

Then, we also have social security legislations in place which is supposed to take care of healthcare of these workers - All medical and healthcare charges should already have been borne by the   Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952 (amended 1996) that now provides 24 hour coverage to the migrant worker. [For local workers, the have the Social Security Act (SOCSO)]. Now, this Act should be covering ALL the medical and healthcare cost of migrant workers - and if is is inadequate, then reasonably the government should have increased the Employer's contribution, noting that here unlike the SOCSO, where both employees and employers contribute monthly, only employers pay. Rightly, I believe, that both the migrant workers and employer should also be making similar contributions like the SOCSO and accorded similar benefits.

In any event, despite the fact that the Workmen Compensation Act 1952, covers all obligations of medical and healthcare charges, the government introduced Foreign Workers Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme which started on 1/1/2011, whereby the premium was RM120 per year - whereby the obligation to pay is placed on the migrant worker, save for domestic workers and plantation workers sectors where here the employer pays these annual premium.

Malaysia can make foreigners pay higher rates for medical treatment - but really this should certainly not be imposed for the about 2.9 million migrant workers(documented) in Malaysia... 

What about people from ASEAN? Will they also be forced to pay this higher rates?

Published: Thursday November 13, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday November 13, 2014 MYT 9:57:45 AM

Foreigners to pay medical treatment in full by 2017

FOREIGNERS will have to pay the full cost of medical treatment at government hospitals and clinics by 2017, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He said this was following the Cabinet’s decision to remove the medical subsidy given to foreigners in phases beginning January.

“In the next three years, foreigners will be charged the full sum, meaning that the medical costs for foreigners next year will be increased by 30%.

“In 2016, it will be increased by another 30% and by 40% in 2017,” he said when responding to points raised in the Budget 2015 debate for the ministry.

Dr Subramaniam said by the end of 2017, foreigners will be paying 100% of the costs without any subsidy.

“This amount would be about twice the current fees,” he added.

Last year, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya announced a plan to get foreigners, including students, to pay for their actual cost of medical treatment in government hospitals, and not at a subsidised rate.

Dr Subramaniam had said the plan required some amendments to the Fees Act (Medical) 1951 for Foreigners. - Star, 13/11/2013, Foreigners to pay medical treatment in full by 2017

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