PUTRAJAYA, Sept 14 — The government views the practice of forced labour in Malaysia seriously, even though it is still under control, and has set a target of zero forced labour by 2030, said Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar.

He said the government’s commitment to addressing forced labour can be seen through the amendment of the Employment Act 1955 (Amendment) 2022, which has created new provisions through Section 90B regarding forced labour, in addition to launching the National Action Plan on Forced Labour (NAPFL) 2021-2025.

The Department of Labour Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM) has taken action, with 1,321 investigation papers opened against 645 employers since January 1, for various labour offences including illegal wage deductions.

In the same period, 272 employers were issued compounds totalling RM2.17 million, while 128 employers were fined by the court, amounting to RM242,000, he said.

“The JTKSM’s action is not intended to punish employers involved, but rather to serve as a lesson so that the issue of forced labour is not taken lightly in the country,” he said at a press conference, after launching the Guidelines on Preventing and Eradicating Forced Labour Practices in the Workplace, today.

The 50-page guideline is a joint effort of JTKSM and the Home Ministry’s Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO), to serve as a guide for employers and employees and to raise awareness among stakeholders on the issue of forced labour practices.

The book explains the indicators of forced labour, including persecution of vulnerable groups, excessive overtime and physical and sexual violence.

Based on the provisions under Article 2(1) of the Forced Labour Convention 1930, any work or service performed by a person under threat of any form and without consent, is defined as forced labour.

The book will be distributed to government premises as well as private employers and can be obtained through the JTKSM website. — Bernama