KUALA LUMPUR: BOSSES who make their foreign workers pay the employment levy imposed by the government will be held liable under the law.
Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Ismail Abd Muttalib said they could be cited under the Fee Act 1951.
The ministry had made it clear in the past that employers were legally bound to commit to the Employers Undertaking document, which they signed before they were permitted to hire foreign workers.
Aside from the levy obligation, employers must also adhere to other conditions when employing foreign workers.
The levy system was introduced on Jan 1 this year to improve the management of foreign workers, including limiting their employment to 15 per cent of the country’s total workforce by 2020.
“We want foreign workers to report to the ministry if their employers demand that they pay the levy themselves.
“We will go after them (the employers), if that is the case,” he told the New Straits Times.
Employers, however, are allowed to make certain deductions, as provisioned under Section 24 of the Employment Act. These deductions are limited to housing, health insurance and medical checks and are subject to the approval of the ministry.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali told the NST that the spirit behind the levy pricing mechanism was also to monitor the number of foreign workers in the various sectors.
Errant employers had caused a host of problems with regard to the hiring of foreign workers, said Mustafar. Many had put their workers on the wrong side of the law by allowing them to be in sectors that they were not supposed to be employed in.
Employers, he said, did this to avoid paying a higher levy. Under the existing system, employers in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors, also defined as category one, have to pay RM1,850 for each foreign worker they hire.
In the plantation and agriculture sectors, known as category two, it is only RM640 per worker.
Mustafar said the department had reined in “thousands of employers guilty of this”.
On the part of the foreign workers, they could be deported and prevented from entering the country for up to five years if they ran away from their legal employment.
Mustafar said the Immigration Department was monitoring employers and their foreign labourers for this type of abuse which he said caused a serious imbalance in sectors that depended on foreign labour.
“It is illegal for them to go job-hopping... They cannot run away from their assigned employers to seek greener pastures.
“That’s neither their call nor their employers.
“We need to maintain the number of foreign workers based on the needs of the industries.
“If not, people will keep on saying that Kuala Lumpur is being flooded with foreigners.”
He issued errant employers this message: “Move your foreign workers other than where they had been assigned to and be prepared
to be cited for modern-day slavery.”
These employers, he said, could be considered as complicit in “trafficking in persons”.
He made it clear that only with the approval of the Home Ministry could the foreign workers be moved to another sector.