KUALA LUMPUR | The government should review the proposed new condition whereby companies are allowed to hire foreign workers by paying for the repatriation of undocumented migrants in the immigration depot, said the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

The federation called on the government to engage with relevant stakeholders to come up with a more workable solution to address the current labour shortages faced by some industries.

In a statement today, president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said FMM welcomed the government’s announcement to help fill up the existing vacancies with new foreign workers from the source country.

“(However), we view the conditions imposed on this relaxation as very restrictive and would tremendously tax employers financially amidst the industry’s business recovery and other regulatory compliance imposed on employment of foreign workers,” he said.

Soh said in addition to big corporations, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should also be allowed to bring in new workers as larger companies needed the support of SME companies in their supply chain to support their operations.

He also said the industry should not be made responsible to cover the cost of deportation of the illegal foreigner workers (PATI) who had entered the country via the illegal channel.

“Employers are not responsible for the illegal stay of these workers and thus should not be burdened with their repatriation as those who bring in foreign workers via the proper channels are already paying towards a bank guarantee of between RM250 and RM1,500 per worker (to cover repatriation cost should the worker abscond).

“Imposing additional conditions on employers during the current challenging business conditions amidst the Covid-19 pandemic recovery period would be very damaging on industries that are already struggling with many other cost challenges as well as labour issues in their business recovery process,” Soh said.

He also said that while the industry was supportive of the government’s decision to allow sourcing of workers from the pool of illegal workers currently in the immigration depot which were getting congested with workers, it was important that this be managed well.

“There are some negative consequences of allowing such a legalisation process. There would still be the tendency for these workers to abscond after they have been legalised due to the poor tracking system of workers.

“It could encourage unlawful job hopping among the legal workers too. In this regard, it is proposed that the government allows for the legalisation and re-employment of these workers without any additional cost to the employer except for the cost for a work permit, passport and visa and allow employers to filter and screen the workers before they make a decision,” he added.

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