We need more time to comply, say employers

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Master Builders Association says contractors will need more time to comply with the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).

Its president Tee See Kim said the enforcement of Act 446, which came into effect on Sept 1 last year, was “untimely” as employers were already being burdened with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are already facing challenges in keeping our businesses alive, complying with new SOP as well as facing a shortage of workers due to the closure of borders.

“The enforcement of the Act was a double whammy for us, ” he added.

He said employers, especially those with a large number of foreign workers, needed time to make the necessary changes.

Tee said adhering to the specific accommodation under the Act was also a costly affair.

“I hope that the government will also provide assistance to industry players to adhere to these regulations as we are unable to do it on our own given the current circumstances.

“Slapping compounds one after another will only make matters worse, ” Tee said.

Johor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary Datuk K. Krishnan said enforcement should have come into effect before the Covid-19 pandemic.

He described the Act as a good move, but noted that space and time were of the essence.

“The regulation has always been there but it was only enforced recently. This sudden change has made it very difficult for employers to comply, especially with the lack of revenue.

“We understand the need to have these regulations enforced and are prepared to work on it but these are not changes that can happen overnight, ” he said.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said the enforcement further complicated the process of hiring foreign workers.

“Despite facing a significant drop in sales, we have to fork out more money to adhere to the Act as it is now a prerequisite to hire foreign workers, ” he said.

It was reported that a total of 10,961 employers were found to not be complying with Act 446 during inspections conducted by the Labour Department from Feb 1 to April 15.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Awang Hashim said the department conducted inspections on 14,835 employers nationwide, involving 95,870 employee accommodation units.

He said of the total number of employers checked, 3,874 or 26.1% of them met the criteria, while others still failed to comply with the Act.

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