PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has urged the government to be more transparent with the hiring process of foreign workers.
“When we do not have enough workers, we have to make do with all the resources we have.
““This may be the reason the media reported that foreign workers were asked to work longer hours and even on their rest days,” MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said.
The Human Resources Ministry, in a report on Monday, dispelled the notion that its decision to freeze the hiring of foreign workers had affected businesses. Instead, the ministry said that such businesses had failed to meet the criteria in hiring these workers.
Last year, 9,197 applications for foreign workers were received, out of which only 47% of them (or 4,284 applications) were successful.
Shamsuddin countered the ministry’s stance, noting that the government had approved less than half of the applications for foreign recruits, leaving the employers having to deal with their available resources to meet customers’ demand.
“Employers do not simply put in the numbers (of foreign workers they need). They need to fill the remaining 53% vacancies. How can the ministry say the slow-down (in hiring) has nothing to do with non-approval of applications?” he asked.
He said that employers would only seek foreign workers according to the needs of their businesses.
Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia (Papa) president Foo Yong Hooi noted that many applications were rejected due to non-compliance with the Employment Act.
This included wrong calculation of overtime pay and provision of low standard of accommodation, and issues with employment contracts, he said.
“When employers put in their applications, the Labour Department will check if they comply with the laws. If they don’t comply, they will be asked to rectify it.
“While doing the rectification, their applications will be put on hold. If they fail to comply within a stipulated time, their applications will be rejected automatically.
“We should not blame either party but I would suggest that applications for foreign workers and compliance issues be separated in order to avoid the delay.”
He spoke of how some construction firms were asked to prepare the salary list of six years, which could take months to complete.
The best solution, he said, would be to ask employers to sign a letter of undertaking that they would rectify all non-compliant matters.
If they failed to so so, they should be penalised accordingly “but their applications should not be affected due to non-compliance,” he said.