Foreign workers are now allowed to change employers legally- Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA: The government allows foreign workers to change employers to fill the needs in the plantation and agriculture sector which is currently facing a labor shortage.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the decision was made at a meeting of the Joint Committee of the Home Affairs Minister and the Human Resources Minister on the Management of Foreign Workers today.

He said, the exchange is across industries where workers are allowed to work in other industries if the sector should be full.

“I met the Minister of Plantation and Commodities, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani this morning to get an accurate picture of the issue of lack of workers in the plantation sector.

“That’s the method we will use since the option for repatriation is not possible because it will fall into the category of forced labor. That will affect our rating.

“The employers have brought in the workers and clearly they cannot provide jobs, so we allow a change of employer to be made involving the employee,” he said in a press conference after the committee’s meeting, today.

The media previously reported that the issue of the lack of foreign workers, especially in the rubber industry, is critical considering that approximately 420,000 hectares of rubber plantations are not tapped due to the lack of workers.

He said that more than 70,000 foreign workers are needed to fill that need.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin said, the committee also agreed that the application period to bring foreign workers into the country should be shortened from 29 months 13 days to 15 months 23 days.

“Previous practice, we were presented with flow charts, processes, approvals, agency interviews, levy payments, conditional approval letters, waiting for visas, issuing visas, all of which took 29 months and 13 days from the quota application to the entry of workers,” he said.

In addition, it was the decision to re-examine the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the resource country to re-explore agreements such as fees, costs, contract conditions and health because the MoU is dynamic.

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