Malaysia is planning to introduce e-wages system, which will alert the government in case foreign workers are not paid, as part of its new measures to protect the migrants.
"I have begun discussing with the home ministry to introduce this e-wages system. If an employer fails to pay the wages of their workers, we will be alerted through the system," Malaysia's Human Resources Minister Datuk M Saravanan said.
This will provide a form of guarantee to the foreign workers in accordance with international standards, he told reporters after a programme in Putrajaya yesterday.
Malaysian government will also enforce Section 446 of the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act from September 1 to ensure that all employers provide housing, accommodation and that their workers' welfare is taken care of, according to Malaysian newspaper, The Star.
"If an employer is found not providing these, they are liable to a maximum of RM 50,000 fine for every offence," Sararanan said, adding that these measures were discussed during a meeting with the Bangladesh High Commission to Malaysia recently.
Malaysia is a popular destination for Bangladeshis. There are some eight lakh Bangladeshis working in the Southeast Asian country.
Malaysia suspended labour recruitment from Bangladesh since September 2018 as it found that a syndicate of agents used to charge up to Tk 4 lakh for recruitment of each worker and that the migrants were facing huge debt.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, majority of the foreign workers, including Bangladeshis, were jobless. With the reopening since mid-June, many are rejoining work but many others have no jobs with their factories shutting down or retrenching workers.
"Due to the economic slowdown, we expect to see a lot of foreign workers with permits who will lose jobs. Therefore, we need to do a redeployment exercise," Saravanan said.
"The Bangladesh government is very proactive and concerned about their workers. I have explained these measures to them and I believe they are satisfied with it," he said, adding that he will also engage with government representatives of other countries.
Saravanan said he also discussed Malaysia's freeze on the hiring of foreign workers due to the Covid-19 situation from July 1 to the end of the year.
He said the ministry will also propose that every foreign worker be given protection under the Social Security Organisation (Socso).
"Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen why it is important to ensure our foreign workers are given protection.
"The international standard is that all workers, regardless whether they are local or foreign, are given equal treatment," said Saravanan.
He said Malaysia no longer wants to be a dumping ground for migrant workers.
"Whenever an employer hires a foreign worker, we want to ensure that the employee is paid the wages as promised," said Saravanan.