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Malaysia proposes to deduct migrant workers’ wages

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Dec 17, 2018-

The Malaysian government is planning to deduct 20 percent of foreign workers’ basic salary. According to Malaysian local media, The Sun Daily, Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran has proposed the plan to prevent foreign workers from leaving the country before completing their contracts, an act that has left employers incurring massive losses on their part for bringing the employees in the country in the first place.

The South East Asian country, whose workforce is heavily reliant on migrant workers, has long been facing this issue of migrant workers fleeing and then ending up as undocumented. The issue of undocumented migrant employees has been a major headache for the Malaysian authority and employers.

According to the Malaysian Immigration Department, the country has an estimated 600,000 illegal immigrants and more than 1.7 million foreigners working legally. 

Stating the proposal as a relevant method in addressing the issue, Minister Kulasegaran said, “If implemented, it is a win-win situation for employers and workers as both parties will benefit from the deduction.”

The minister, who was addressing a press conference after a dialogue session with 60 employers in the rubber glove industry on Sunday, was further quoted by The Sun Daily as saying, “The proposal has been submitted to the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) last week and it is open to discussion among stakeholders before it is finalised.”

Once implemented, the move will also affect Nepali workers in the country. Malaysia hosts a total of 385,000 documented Nepali workers until July 2018. Besides, a large number of Nepali workers are said to be working without valid document in the country. The Nepali Embassy in Malaysia has been encouraging Nepali citizens to get the legal status or return home.

The Malaysian government has also been providing general amnesty to such undocumented workers if they wish to apply for the legal status and return home without facing any legal action. Last year alone, nearly 15,000 illegal Nepali workers opted to utilise the general amnesty before its deadline ended on August 30. However, indicating that there would not be an amnesty offer to undocumented workers any time soon, the Malaysian authority has warned of harsh actions on illegal workers.

As per the proposal, the deducted money from migrant workers’ wages will be deposited in the Social Security Organisation (Socso). The withheld money will later be handed over to the workers once their work contract is over, reported The Sun Daily.

However, no deadline has been decided for the implementation of the plan, and it is up to the employers whether they want to go ahead with the proposal, according to Minister Kulasegaran. “The issue has also been raised in the meeting where a majority of employers welcomed the proposal.”

Published: 17-12-2018 08:37

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