PETALING JAYA: The government’s move to reinstate the foreign worker replacement system to all sectors effective July 1 is the right thing to do, say employers who called for things to be simplified.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said that bringing back the scheme, which would allow employers to get a replacement for a foreign worker who had returned home without having to go through a new application process, would help reduce cost and time.
“Prior to the reinstatement, employers had to apply as if they were new workers, although it’s meant for replacement of a previous worker who had left. It caused a lot of red tape, not to mention the costs,” he said.
With the replacement scheme back in place, the normal process is dispensed with as long as the employer is able to show the Check Out Memo, he said.
The Check Out Memo is applied for by the employers and issued to foreign workers or foreign domestic helpers to facilitate their return to their country of origin.
Shamsuddin hoped that the time taken for the approval of the replacement foreign worker would be expedited.
“Rather than taking a few weeks for them to come to Malaysia to work, the processes should be improved further,” he said.
The Malaysian Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry welcomed the move, saying it would help “revive” about 100,000 Indian-owned banana leaf and nasi kandar restaurants nationwide.
“The foreign worker replacement is not about opening new businesses; it is about sustaining old businesses that have been around for 30 to 40 years,” its president Datuk N. Gobalakrishnan said, adding that many of them had to scale down due to manpower shortage.
He also hoped that the Human Resources Ministry would also allow frozen sectors – those not allowed to apply for foreign workers – the flexibility to hire foreign workers.
He said the six – textile, jewellery, scrap metal and e-waste recycling, dobi, barber and sundry shops – were struggling to survive.
Gobalakrishnan said these businesses had difficulty replacing workers who had returned to India as locals were not interested to handle the 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs.
“These are also traditional Indian businesses that require expertise that local workers do not have,” he said.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said the reinstatement of the foreign worker replacement scheme was good for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“This is a good decision made by the Cabinet to ease up at least 50% of the foreign workers quorum.
“Employers will no longer have to go through another new application, which is a tedious process. This will definitely save time and money.
“The process will be more simplified. If you have the Check Out Memo from the Home Ministry, then you can have the worker replaced.
“It will help those SMEs and households to have enough workforce,” he said.
Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi hoped that the process to get the foreign workers replaced would be simplified.
“It is a good move that has been long pending. However, the process has to be simplified and the details spelt out clearly,” he said.
Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayub Khan echoed the view, saying that the process must be simplified and “friendly” to businesses.
“The replacement scheme being back in place is good for small businessmen and small traders,” he said and thanked the government for the move.
“For us restaurant owners, we just want to make a living without much complication.
“The easy replacement scheme will make life easier for us now.”
On Friday, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran announced that the system, which was suspended in 2017, would be back in place starting July 1.
“It was an inconvenience to employers who were forced to go through the normal application process and incur further costs to get replacement workers.
“The government believes this approach will not involve increasing the number of foreign workers but instead retain the number which has been approved before,” he had said.