Some 91.1% or 1.4 million foreign workers in the country are provided with accommodation that does not meet provisions in the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 or Act 446.
Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said he found the statistics “very worrying”, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The government had received applications for certificates of accommodation for only 143,587 or 8.89% of the 1.6 million foreign workers in the country as of Oct 31.
“This situation clearly shows that employers and providers of centralised accommodation for 1.4 million foreign workers in Malaysia still fail to apply for the certificate from the Department of Manpower Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM),” he said at a press conference today, also attended by Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Saravanan said Act 446 would be continuously enforced with action taken against errant employers.
“Since the enforcement of Act 446 on Sept 1, JTKSM has conducted 1,850 inspections involving 1,813 employers and 37 centralised accommodation providers throughout the peninsula and the Federal Territory of Labuan.
“JTKSM is targeting 25,000 inspections by 2021,” he said.
Ismail, who is also chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers, said the certificate of accommodation would be a pre-requisite for employers who intend to hire new foreign workers effective July 1 next year.
“Before an employer makes an application to bring in foreign workers, the employer must obtain the certificate from the human resources ministry to enable the Malaysian Immigration Department to issue a visa.
“This means, before foreign workers arrive in the country, employers are required to make available accommodation that complies with Act 446. Otherwise, the foreign workers are (regarded as) illegal immigrants,” he said.
Ismail also reminded employers that Act 446 covers local workers as well.
“The focus of Act 446 at the moment is on foreign workers due to high number of Covid-19 cases involving them,” he added.