Hiring freeze extended

The wait goes on: Those waiting to hire foreign domestic helpers will have to wait till the end of the year for a decision from the government. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The freeze on the hiring of foreign workers, including domestic helpers, will be extended until Dec 31, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

The Human Resources Minister said any decision to bring in foreign workers would be announced by the government after discussions with the National Security Council and the other relevant ministries.

“I urge and advise private employment agencies that are registered and have been given licences by us not to make any statement or advertisement that will confuse employers regarding the entry of domestic workers from source countries,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Saravanan noted that the majority of domestic helpers in the country were from Indonesia, adding that the ministry was currently in negotiations with the Indonesian government to finalise the memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the recruitment of Indonesian maids that ended in May 2016.

He added as of August, there were 92,481 foreign domestic helpers in the country, of whom 64,181 were from Indonesia.

On July 24, the ministry said in a statement that both countries had agreed to hold an official-level Technical Working Group Meeting to finalise the MOU on the Recruitment and Protection of Indonesian Domestic Workers in Malaysia.

The initial discussion was held following former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s visit to Jakarta in early February, where Indonesian President Joko Widodo requested the signing of the MOU to be expedited after Malaysia expressed its commitment to continue recruiting domestic workers from Indonesia.

The MOU was inked for the first time on May 13, 2006, in Bali and subsequently, the Protocol to Amend the MOU was signed on May 31, 2011, in Bandung, which expired on May 30, 2016.

Among the issues discussed were the one channel system, one maid-one task concept, domestic worker salaries, and matters pertaining to the welfare and protection of Indonesian migrant workers in the country.

Last December, Saravanan said Malaysia was deliberating over two new conditions laid out by Indonesia in the imminent extension of a labour agreement with Malaysia.

He said Malaysia had received the republic’s counter-proposal for the MOU last November.

Among this is to have the hiring process done via an online system, which Malaysia is supportive of considering the pandemic and the domestic helper shortage that warranted a better monitoring system.

The online system should not be confused with the Sistem Maid Online launched in 2018, where maids were hired without going through the Private Employment Agencies, an arrangement under which they come in as tourists before applying to work as a maid through the system.

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