Stop hiring illegal migrant workers, says MEF

Foreign workers queue up to be tested for Covid-19 at Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur April 16, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Foreign workers queue up to be tested for Covid-19 at Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur April 16, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has urged all employers to stop hiring illegal immigrants immediately and to surrender such illegals in their employ to the government to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In making the call, MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan also said the government should not prosecute the illegal workers and instead should repatriate them to their home countries.

It takes time to go through the process of charging them while it would cost taxpayers money to keep them in detention centres, he added.

“Detaining an illegal immigrant in a detention centre costs about RM70 per day; a better way is for the government to process them for Covid-19 and if negative, just send them back to their country,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

Shamsuddin also said the government should step up monitoring of illegal foreign workers as they don’t have medical records and do not get medical benefits.

Legal foreign workers have medical insurance provided by their employers and also enjoy Social Security Organisation (Socso) coverage, which could cover the cost if a worker falls sick or needs to be hospitalised, he added.

On the issue of accommodation for foreign workers, he said employers could ill-afford to improve the living conditions of workers during these challenging times.

Forcing employers to comply with the law on minimum housing standards now could force many to wind up their operations, he added.

“Employers are (obliged) to provide safe and healthy living conditions to all the legal foreign workers, but some employers right now are facing severe financial constraints due to the Movement Control Order,” he said.

In view of the new normal, Shamsuddin suggested that the government start legalising pay cuts during this period to reduce the cost of doing business and ease the burden of employers. — Bernama

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