Malaysia to issue temporary work passes to undocumented workersMalaysia on Tuesday said its issuing temporary work passes to foreigners working without legal status and allow companies employing undocumented workers to legally retain them.
Malaysia on Tuesday said its issuing temporary work passes to foreigners working without legal status and allow companies employing undocumented workers to legally retain them. The decision is expected to benefit tens of thousands of foreigners working in the kingdom including around 40,000 Nepalis working in Malaysia.
The announcement was made by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Tuesday. Hamaidi said that the 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 under purview of legal system and cope with shortage of labour in poultry farming, mining and quarrying, cargo handling and hospitality and tourism. Both big and small Malaysian companies are facing labour shortage after the authorities there tightened process to hire foreign workers to increase jobs for local.
"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 on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s decision comes as an opportunity to many undocumented workers to avoid possible deportation after lengthy, traumatic and costly detention process. It is also an opportunity for companies employing illegal workers to legalize them without facing legal consequences. Hiring undocumented workers is criminal offence in Malaysia wherein the employers could be subject to heavy penalty and jail terms.
Not all, however, are convinced that Tuesday decision will encourage workers to seek legal status owing to cost. Stakeholders in Nepal said many workers may not be tempted by the offer due to need to pay levy. The registration, temporary pass and levy are likely to cost more than 4,000 ringgit, according to officials.
“It’s not clear whether employers will bear the levy amount. Not many workers will legalize if they have to bear the burden of levy,” said an official at the Nepal’s embassy in Kuala Lampur.
Similarly, not all employers are likely to entertain the idea of legalizing the workers as it would make binding for them to pay minimum wage and other perks. Basically smaller companies in plantation, construction, agriculture and farming hire workers as they came cheaper. Nepal’s mission in Malaysia said that most of the undocumented workers get less than 600 ringgit per month.
Malaysian government had brought similar programmes targeting undocumented workers in the past including mass amnesty and legalization package. But thousands of workers including did not applied for visa.
Though exact figure is hard to come by, there are around 40,000 undocumented workers in Malaysia. Malaysia is home to around 450,000 Nepali workers. The country received a total of 40987 Nepali including those going on reentry visa left to work in Malaysia in the first five months of fiscal year 2016-17.