KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Putrajaya has decided to ease hiring rules for foreign workers in Malaysia by doing away with existing preconditions while allowing recruitment to be conducted on an as-needed basis.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the new Pelan Kelonggaran Penggajian Pekerja Asing (PKPPA), or Plan to Facilitate the Hiring of Foreign Workers, will let employers hire foreign labour from 15 countries based on what they can afford and need without the constraints of any preconditions or quotas.
“Secondly, a series of working visits by a Malaysian delegation will be organised to source countries to discuss matters related to the safety and wellbeing of foreign workers in Malaysia,” Anwar said in a statement after chairing a meeting on the matter with the relevant ministries and agencies today.
“It is estimated the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) will increase by 1 per cent if we can speed up the hiring of foreign workers to meet the needs of relevant sectors.
“Thirdly, the meeting agreed to implement the Illegal Immigrant Recalibration Plan 2.0 (IIRP) specifically for the Manpower Recalibration Programme (MRP) until December 2023.
“Under the previous programme, which was until December 31, 2022, 418,649 foreign workers were registered for work, while another 295,425 were registered under the Return Recalibration programme.
“The main difference of IIRP 2.0 is that the conditions are more flexible without ignoring the issue of safety within country.”
Anwar said these plans, while not permanent, were “unprecedented” in nature to meet the country’s economic development needs.
The Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry will spearhead the plans and Anwar said the former will make further announcements on the issue in the future.
Malaysia has been experiencing a foreign labour shortage for nearly two years.
On November 16, 2020, the government launched the Illegal Immigrant Recalibration Plan, implemented by the Immigration Department in collaboration with the Peninsular Malaysia Labour Department (JTKSM) and other government agencies, without the involvement of vendors or third parties.
It was to regularise undocumented migrants in the country as foreign workers, who could be employed by eligible employers subject to stringent conditions determined by the government.
The Return Recalibration programme is a government initiative to provide an opportunity for immigrants who have overstayed and are in Malaysia without a valid pass, to voluntarily return to their country of origin.
However, the entry of new labour has been slow, with many industry players complaining about alleged third-party involvement and extra fees incurred by them and their potential employees.