No extension of May 31 foreign worker deadline

PUTRAJAYA: There will be no extension to the May 31 deadline for employers to bring in foreign workers in the formal sector as the government is confident the ceiling for the number of foreign labour in the workforce will have been met, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister said he was aware of calls for the government to reconsider the matter and pointed out the decision was made based on several justifications.

He explained based on what the Economy Minister had determined, the ceiling for foreign workers was set at 15% of the total workforce, which in November last year stood at 17 million.

“Based on the figure, the permitted maximum number of foreign workers should be around 2,550,000.

“As of February, the headcount recorded by the Immigration Department was 2,130,931.

“Based on the progress of the labour recalibration programme 2.0 and the forecast on the number of foreign workers that have been approved, the 15% ceiling will be reached as early as May 31,” he said yesterday.

Saifuddin said based on this projection and taking into account the issue of national security, the government had decided to set the May 31 deadline to bring in foreign workers in the formal sector.

“The decision will allow the government to evaluate the efficacy of its initiatives to accurately measure the country’s need for foreign labour before we can consider the need to open quotas for foreign employment,” he explained.

Saifuddin said between Jan 17 and March 23 last year, a total of 412,011 quotas had its levy paid and 58% or 239,305 had already been given the visa with reference (VDR) letter.

The figure, he said, gave a clear indication that employers who truly need foreign hirings would expedite the entry of their workers.

“The period for foreign workers to enter the country should be shortened, in line with the government’s aim to expedite the process to meet industries’ urgent needs.

“The aim (of the deadline) is also to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers, which has been widely reported before,” he said.

Saifuddin said any unused quota where the VDR was cancelled and the levy paid would be refunded to employers.

The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia had recently urged the government to reassess the decision to bring forward deadlines for bringing in foreign workers into the country to avoid disruption to recruitment plans by businesses.

The appeal came after the Immigration Department’s recent announcement of changes in regulations on the management and intake of foreign workers.

Among others, employers with an active quota for foreign workers are now required to bring these workers into the country by May 31, a shift from the previous deadline of Sept 30.

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