Putrajaya mulls PM’s Office to oversee foreign workers recruitment

The Malaysian government is considering proposals to transfer the responsibility of foreign worker recruitment from the Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office. In a written parliamentary response, the Human Resources Ministry acknowledged the suggestions, which also call for the department overseeing foreign worker intake to be chaired by the prime minister and led by a former judge, CEO, or retired senior civil servant. However, no decision has been made on this matter yet.

The ministry’s statement was in response to Labis MP Pang Hok Liong’s question on whether the Prime Minister’s Department would handle foreign worker hiring to ensure a more open and transparent process at both the source country and Malaysia, without interference from labour brokers or middlemen. The Human Resources Ministry explained that the Cabinet had decided in December 2022 on its role and the Home Ministry’s role in managing foreign worker intake, with realignment starting from January 15 this year.

The Home Ministry has been designated as the primary handler for foreign worker management, while the Human Resources Ministry’s role involves compliance with labour laws and policies, determining quotas, and finalising memorandums of understanding with source countries. The realignment aims to balance economic development with national security and streamline the foreign worker intake process.

In a separate parliamentary reply, the Human Resources Ministry stated that there are no plans to exempt employers from paying levies on foreign workers. The government is currently drafting the best mechanism to implement a Multi-Tier Levy, where the levy rate imposed on employers will be based on the concept of “the more foreign workers hired, the higher the levy imposed.” This approach is intended to reduce reliance on foreign manpower and ensure job opportunities for Malaysians are not affected.

According to the Home Ministry, there are currently 1,645,658 foreign workers in Malaysia with active temporary work passes from the Immigration Department. These workers are allowed to work in various sectors, including manufacturing, construction, plantation, services, agriculture, mining, and quarrying, according to the approved quota.

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Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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