Send your foreign staff for Covid-19 screening or face legal action, minister warns employers

Health workers conduct a Covid-19 screening test on local and foreign workers at Central Spectrum, Pulau Indah, December 10, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Health workers conduct a Covid-19 screening test on local and foreign workers at Central Spectrum, Pulau Indah, December 10, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Employers who fail to get their foreign workers screened for Covid-19 risk legal action and the revocation of their staff work permits, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

He said that the Human Resources Ministry had informed him that up until yesterday, 99,163 foreign workers had undergone Covid-19 screening, involving 3,536 employers. Of this number, 2,079 workers tested positive for the virus.

The senior minister (security cluster) said that currently, there are 758 clinics involved in the Covid-19 screening programme.

“That’s why I said we will be observing the case increment daily because the screenings are ongoing for foreign workers and the results will be out every day too. So that’s why we are seeing that the positive cases are rather high,” Ismail Sabri said during his press conference today.

He said that despite an order for foreign worker screening being issued in December, some employers refused to cooperate, and therefore, the order was gazetted into law, under Act 342 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, beginning January 1.

“In fact, I discussed it with the Immigration Department. If there are employers who refuse and do not want to cooperate, and their workers are still not sent for screening tests, we can ask the Immigration Department to cancel their work permits.

“So we can take action to the point of cancelling the work permits of these foreign workers. If they don’t have work permits because they were cancelled, then they have no right to work at their place of employment and can be assumed to be here illegally,” he added.

Ismail Sabri said that employers were ordered to screen their foreign workers from December 1 last year, particularly in six states, namely: Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, and to pay for the tests themselves.  

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