EPF-style scheme for foreign workers being mulled

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan

KAJANG: The government is considering kicking off a savings scheme for foreign workers styled after the Employers Provident Fund (EPF) that it hopes will also solve a couple of other problems.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said the scheme would allow these workers to withdraw their savings only from their home countries.

He added that unlike the EPF, which allows withdrawals upon retirement, this foreign worker scheme will cover a period of only 10 years.

“The savings can only be withdrawn in their country of origin, which means they have to go back to claim the money,” he said.

Saravanan said some foreign workers who come to work in Malaysia decide to overstay.

“Within 10 years, they have to go back whether they like it or not. Perhaps we will propose that the funds will not be available if they are not claimed within a year,” he said at the National Professors Council’s ‘Minda Profesor Negara’ panel discussion on the issue of foreign workers here yesterday.

Saravanan added that this was also a way of ensuring that there were no undocumented migrant workers in the country and that they would return to their countries after 10 years.

However, he said according to International Labour Organisation’s standards, such contributions cannot be forced upon workers.

He said the government also did not want to increase the burden on employers by rolling out the scheme at this juncture, with the minimum wage just having been raised, among others.

“Maybe it is too early for another form of contribution just as the country is overcoming sluggish economic conditions,” he said.

He also said that several migrant workers who came here to work have become employers themselves, with some even hiring other foreign workers.

Meanwhile, Saravanan said all expatriates and foreign workers entering the county would need a stamp of approval from the Labour Director-General from Sept 1 onwards.

He said government agencies bringing in professional and non-professional workers would also need the approval of the Labour DG.

“Now we will be able to create a single window,” he said, adding that the system will allow authorities to identify the foreign worker’s mode of entry.

On another note, Saravanan said a special announcement on the reduction of weekly working hours from 48 to 45 will be made next week.

“Please be patient for another week. I’ll make a special announcement. There are a number of things to be announced in terms of working hours, days off, the ministry’s role, enforcement agencies and others,” he added.

A vernacular daily had reported that the enforcement of shorter working hours could be deferred.

The report, quoting sources, said Saravanan had pledged not to implement the new ruling on Sept 1 during a recent meeting with industry representatives.

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