Govt to amend laws to ensure minimum standard for workers' accommodation

KUALA LUMPUR: The government intends to amend laws to include stricter provisions to ensure a minimum standard for workers' accommodation, similar to what was in the now-annulled Emergency Ordinance, says Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

"The provisions under the annulled Emergency Ordinance will be included to proposed amendments to Act 446 (Employees' Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities Act 1990)," the Human Resources Minister said during his ministerial reply on the motion to annual six Emergency Ordinances in Parliament on Monday (Oct 25).

Among these include the power by the ministry's secretary-general to order employers to replace, change or upgrade the facilities should it be found not to meet the criteria.

The secretary-general could also order employers to immediately relocate their workers to temporary accommodation.

The temporary accommodation encompasses centralised labour quarters that have been certified by the Labour Department, as well as hotels registered under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

He said the proposed amendments to existing laws would also cover Sabah and Sarawak.

He noted that the stricter minimum standard of workers' housing under the Emergency Ordinance had somewhat curbed the possibility of forced labour as mentioned by M. Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat).

The minister also noted that the definition of "forced labour" also included abusive living conditions.

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