KUALA LUMPUR: In a bid to secure the rights of foreign domestic workers, Tenaganita along with several NGOs have drafted a Bill to tackle "loopholes" in the Employment Act.
Tenaganita director Glorene Das (pic
) said the Employment Act does not apply to foreign domestic workers, which had led to an increase of abuse.
“For example, a labour inspector cannot enter the private domains of a house to inspect how domestic workers are doing. That is why a separate legislation with proper terms and conditions is needed.
“Tenaganita and other organisations have drafted a Bill for domestic workers which we hope to push to Parliament by next year,” she said to reporters during an event to commemorate International Migrants Day Monday.
Das said that existing legislation such as the Employment Act, Industrial Relation Act, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Penal Code have provisions to protect migrant workers.
Das, however, said that there is a lack of enforcement and implementation by authorities, which she claimed is discriminatory.
“Let’s say if a migrant worker has unpaid wages, he can stop working and file a case in court. But he becomes undocumented in that process because the law also allows employers to cancel his work permit.
“Then he faces the risks of being arrested, detained and deported. At the same time, while he is pursuing the case, he has to pay hundreds of ringgit to get a special pass which has a stay limit of three months.
“How can you give three months of special pass to settle the case in court? This goes to show that discrimination exists.”
Meanwhile, Das praised the Government’s efforts to introduce the system to hire maids directly online, as it would eliminate middlemen in the process.
“Tenaganita supports direct hiring because domestic workers are better protected. There will be more accountability because the employer will be hiring directly from the Government.
Das said that the Government should also provide more information to the public regarding direct hiring, as employers are left in the dark over the matter.
“We have questions from employers asking us about the direct hiring system because there is a lack of information by the Government,” she said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when tabling Budget 2018, announced that the Government was giving employers a choice to recruit foreign maids directly from nine source countries without going through agents.