KUALA LUMPUR: Effective end of March, it will be mandatory for new batch of foreign maids and employers to attend a half-day course to learn about their respective responsibilities.
The Malaysian Government had also made a counter proposal that the monthly Indonesian maids’ salary be determined by market forces following the Indonesian government’s proposal of RM800 minimum salary for the maids.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam said that beginning end of next month, he had asked the Manpower Department to fix one day every month for the course to be organised at selected areas throughout the country.
He said employers and foreign maids would be required to attend the course aimed at reducing maid abuse as well as run away and theft cases involving maids, within six months after the maids enter the country.
“It will be a two or three hour course. We don’t want to keep them for too long,” he said after the launch of a guidebook on salary remuneration of foreign maids at Socso building here Sunday.
In May last year, The Star reported that the Malaysian Employers Federation had appealed to the ministry to hold induction courses for foreign workers to be held in Malaysia rather than let them be run by trainers in the countries of origin.
MEF president Shamsuddin Bardan said that this was because the courses which were supposed to help foreign workers to adjust life here might be run by trainers unfamiliar with the local culture themselves.
Last November, it was reported that the government had proposed random visits from officers of the Manpower Department and the Home Ministry to check on possible maid abuse.
However, employers were not happy about the proposal, with some saying that it would be an invasion of a family’s privacy.
Subramaniam said the ministry would compel employers and their maids to attend the course based on the list of permits from the Immigration Department.
As of January this year, the department had issued 21,612 temporary work permits for the purpose of salary remuneration of foreign domestic maids.
Asked whether those who failed to attend the course would be penalised, he said the ministry would work out the mechanism.
On whether the ministry would include the mandatory course in the amendments to the Employment Act 1955 which would be tabled in parliament next month, he said : “We will find out in which way we can do it. If we can do it administratively, we’ll do it administratively.”
On the ongoing negotiations on Indonesian government’s RM800 salary proposal for domestic maids, Subramaniam said : “We have countered the proposal. We suggested that it be determined by market forces.”
He said minimum wage was included in memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with other countries, adding that the quantum was decided between employers and employees through discussion and agreement.
“We can’t go into MoU and put (minimum) salary value for one country. Other countries will put value. This will be a very difficult situation. So, we allow it to be determined by market forces. That is the basis on which our discussion will go on.”
Asked whether the negotiations on outstanding issues between Malaysia and Indonesia could be resolved by the end of this month, he said :”I can’t look into the future, but if we can meet each other’s terms, we’’ll be able to resolve it.”
He said that both parties had put some conditions and would have to reach a consensus, adding that he believed that both parties had the desire to resolve disputes the soonest possible.
Last June, Indonesia froze the dispatch of Indonesian maids to Malaysia, following reports of abuse by employers.
Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Tan Sri Da’i Bachtiar SH later said that Jakarta would demand higher wages in its negotiations to lift the freeze.
The Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Alwi Bavutty said by allowing foreign maids’ salary to be determined by market forces, maids’ salary would commensurate with the quality of service.
“If the maid of is A grade, she could even earn more than the proposed RM800 minimum salary,” he added.
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