Malaysian social security scheme to enrol Nepali migrantsWith the Nepali embassy signing a memorandum of cooperation next week, nearly 500,000 workers will be covered under the scheme.
Nepali migrants living and working in Malaysia and their families back home will soon be covered under the Malaysian government’s comprehensive social security scheme.
The enrollment of tens of thousands of Nepali workers under a scheme run by the Malaysian Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) became possible after the Nepal government decided to authorise its Foreign Employment Board to sign an agreement with Malaysian officials to do so.
Nepali workers getting to enroll in a social security scheme abroad is a “milestone” moment for the country’s labour migration sector, said Rajan Prasad Shrestha, the board’s executive director. “For a labour source country like Nepal, which sends its citizens to work abroad, getting its people registered under the host country’s social security scheme is a significant development,” he added.
A meeting of the Cabinet this week authorised the government agency that oversees the foreign employment sector to sign a memorandum of cooperation with Malaysian officials concerned to launch the registration of Nepali workers under the scheme.
“We are yet to see how it will be implemented, but with the Malaysian government’s social security scheme implemented, employers and the host government will be more responsible towards the welfare of Nepali workers.”
Negotiations over the memorandum of cooperation for enrolling Nepali workers under the scheme had been going on for several months, but the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed the progress.
In 2019, the Malaysian government made it mandatory for all its employers to register the country’s 1.8 million foreign labour force with the Malaysian Social Security Organisation and contribute to the employment injury scheme.
Nepali officials are counting on the Malaysian government scheme to protect workers in the Southeast Asian country, considered one of the most unsafe destinations for Nepali workers. The scheme protects Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia and their families in Nepal in case of accident, sickness, and death.
“The social security system comes with excellent schemes for protecting our workers. It pledges financial support and medical assistance for both short and long-term disabilities and lifetime financial support to the dependent family members in Nepal in case a worker dies,” said Shrestha. “The scheme, at least, guarantees that our workers will remain safe and will be protected in case of any workplace accidents.”
As per the contribution-based welfare scheme, Malayasian employers are required to contribute an amount equivalent to 1.25 percent of the worker’s monthly salary to SOCSO every month. The Malaysian social security scheme covers employees in the event of workplace injuries, occupational diseases, and accidents during work-related travels.
Once enrolled under the scheme, a family member—spouse, parents, or offspring under 21 years of age—of the deceased migrant worker will receive an amount equivalent to 90 percent of his or her monthly salary for the rest of their life.
Likewise, migrant workers will also be eligible for financial assistance in case of temporary disablement. For permanent disablement, the worker and family member concerned will be entitled to lifetime benefits.
“If a worker dies in Malaysia and has to be cremated there, the family will get financial support of 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit (RM) for funeral services,” said Shrestha. “If the worker’s body needs to be repatriated home, the family will get RM 6,500 for repatriation expenses.”
Enrolling Nepali workers under the social security scheme is also crucial as a high number of deaths is reported among Nepali workers in Malaysia.
According to the Foreign Employment Board, of the 7,467 Nepalis who have died while working abroad in the last 11 years, 2,672 of them died in Malaysia, also one of the most preferred labour destinations for Nepalis.
According to the Migration in Nepal report, there are an estimated 500,000 Nepali migrants in Malaysia, the highest among destination countries.
“Nepali workers getting benefits from the Malaysian government’s social security programme will help the Nepal government seek similar protection from other destination countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar during government to government discussions,” said Shrestha. “We can also make other labour destination countries accountable for our workers’ welfare and safety.”
With the Cabinet’s approval, Nepal’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur will sign the agreement with the Malaysian government in the coming week, according to Shrestha. The foreign employment board will be responsible for the verification of data on migrant workers and their families and the transfer of funds to the concerned families.
“Besides, the social security scheme protects our workers and it also imparts a message to Nepali migrants that they should always migrate through formal channels and remain documented,” said Shrestha. “If they do not turn undocumented, they will not only get coverage from the Malaysian government’s scheme but also receive support from the Nepal government’s Foreign Employment Welfare Fund.”