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Government to tighten hiring rules of foreign workers
PUTRAJAYA: The country is bringing in more foreign workers than needed by industries and the Government wants to plug loopholes that cause the oversupply.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said yesterday the Cabinet was also concerned over excess foreign labour because it undermined the “locals first” policy.

He said while Malaysian industries needed one million foreign workers, the number of foreign workers registered with the ministry currently topped 1.2 million, excluding illegal ones.

Dr Fong told reporters after chairing his ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting at his office that when the Government agreed to allow the manufacturing industry to hire foreign workers, it was supposed to be a temporary measure to ease the labour shortage while the industry evolved from being labour intensive to knowledge and automation based.

He said foreign workers were needed to fill the gap left by local workers who needed to be trained for more skilled jobs, and not as a long-term measure to enable employers to cut cost.

“We want to tighten the regulations on the hiring of foreign workers because we fear there are some employers, especially in the manufacturing sector, who prefer to hire foreign workers either directly or from agencies supplying foreign contract workers rather than employ locals just to save costs,” he said.

Dr Fong said the Government had identified several measures to make it harder for agencies to bring in foreign workers and to reduce country’s dependency on foreign workers.

Among them are: 

STOPPING the system of supplying foreign labour through contractors;

REQUIRING employers to apply for approval from the ministry to hire foreign workers based on need;

CLOSELY monitoring companies planning to introduce voluntary separation schemes (VSS) to prevent them from being used as a guise to lay off local workers;

REQUIRING employers to advertise vacancies for at least two consecutive days in major local dailies to allow local workers the chance to secure employment; and

ENCOURAGING flexible work hours or piece-meal work schemes where portions of a job can be given to full-time housewives.
Dr Fong said that currently employers could source foreign workers from agencies which supply the workers on contract basis.

He said the agencies were not the normal recruitment agencies because they bring in foreign workers not based on the needs of the industry but for the purpose of contracting out the workers to prospective employers.

Dr Fong said a committee comprising senior officers from his ministry and the Home Ministry and its agencies has been set up to study recruitment agencies and ascertain the number of foreign workers who have been brought into the country in this way.

On abuse of VSS, Fong said his ministry had uncovered several cases where it was used to lay off local workers so that foreign contract workers could be employed.

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