HR minister says will investigate claims employers forcing foreign workers to bear costs

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has promised to look into allegations that foreign workers are still being made to pay fees upon arriving in Malaysia for work.

He said the onus is on employers to pay all fees incurred by their foreign employees.

“By right, the cost of travel and accommodation must all be borne by the employer, and if it is otherwise, the workers need to step forward and report it,” he told reporters today.

“In the past, this system didn’t exist, but now, we have it, so they need to make a report.”

When pressed that no proper directive, policy or circular exists to monitor or regulate employers’ actions, Saravanan said he would check with his ministry.

“From the start, all costs should be borne by the employer. However, since it has been brought up, I will look into it,” he said.

The issue of foreign labour has plagued Malaysia for months.

Applications to hire foreign workers will be suspended from August 15 to 31.

The Human Resources Ministry said this was to allow a review of foreign worker procedures following the Employment (Amendment) Act 2022 that will be enforced from September 1.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi and Indonesian workers have trickled into the country, with a memorandum of understanding on domestic helpers from Cambodia set to be signed in the coming months.

Amid this migrant worker crunch, experts have warned that Malaysia is increasingly unattractive to foreign workers.

Malaysia is fast losing its appeal as a destination for migrant workers, economists cautioned, even as key sectors in the country were already struggling with manpower shortages due to regulatory obstacles to foreign recruitment.

They warned that refusal or inability to swiftly address the issue would leave Malaysia vulnerable to falling further behind regional rivals in attracting investment, which would then present “painful” consequences.