Illegal workers to get M’asia temp permitsMalaysia on Tuesday said it was issuing temporary permits to foreigners working without legal status and allowing employers to legally retain undocumented workers.
Malaysia on Tuesday said it was issuing temporary permits to foreigners working without legal status and allowing employers to legally retain undocumented workers.
The decision is expected to benefit tens of thousands of foreigners working in the country including around 40,000 Nepalis.
The announcement was made by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. He said employers would have to follow the normal procedure for hiring foreigners and pay the levy to legally retain undocumented workers.
Malaysian media reported that the decision was aimed at bringing undocumented workers under the purview of law and coping with the labour shortage in poultry farms, mining and quarrying sectors, cargo handling and hospitality and tourism.
Both big and small companies are facing labour shortage after the authorities tightened the process to hire foreign workers to secure jobs for locals.
“They [employers] can start applying for the temporary card for their illegal workers once the Attorney General’s Chambers has sorted the legal process,” The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, quoted Hamidi as saying after chairing the Cabinet Committee meeting on foreign workers and illegal immigrants.
Tuesday’s decision comes as an opportunity for many undocumented workers to avoid possible deportation after a lengthy, traumatic and costly detention process. It is also a chance for companies employing illegal workers to legalise them without facing the consequences. Hiring undocumented workers is a criminal offence in Malaysia wherein the employers could be subject to heavy penalties and jail terms.
Not all, however, are convinced that the decision will encourage workers to seek legal status owing to the cost. Stakeholders in Nepal said many workers may not be tempted by the offer due to the need to pay the levy. The registration, temporary pass and levy are likely to cost more than 4,000 ringgits in total, according to officials.
“It’s not clear whether employers will bear the levy amount. Not many workers will legalise if they have to bear the levy burden,” said an official at Nepali Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Similarly, not all employers are likely to entertain the idea of legalising the workers as it would make it binding for them to pay minimum wage and other perks. Basically, smaller companies in plantation, construction, agriculture and farming hire workers as they come cheaper. Nepal’s mission in Malaysia said most of the undocumented workers get less than 600 ringgits per month.
The Malaysian government had brought similar programmes targeting undocumented workers in the past including the mass amnesty and legalisation package. But thousands of workers did not apply for visa.
Malaysia is home to around 450,000 Nepali workers.