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Amendments to Act 446 allows for better enforcement, says minister

Source from: New Straits Times, Original Article

KUALA LUMPUR: Employers who fail to provide safe accommodation for foreign workers could be jailed under the amended Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said the amendments on Act 446 were gazetted yesterday as part of the Emergency Ordinance.

Among other things, the amendments will give powers to the ministry to act against errant employers in accommodation matters.

The amended act also compels employers to come forward and report on their undocumented migrant workers, who must be inoculated under the upcoming national Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The amendments also mean that Act 466 will now be enforced in Sabah and Sarawak.

Saravanan said foreign workers’ accommodation providers and employers who failed to comply with the requirements can be fined up to RM200,000 or jailed up to three years or both.

“Stiffer penalties are needed to tackle Covid-19 cases among foreigners in the country, regardless if they are legal or undocumented. To put an end to the infection, we must ensure that no one is left behind in the vaccination programme.

“We cannot have migrants not getting the vaccine as it will be a threat to the rest.

“Even if your workers are undocumented, just notify us so they are accounted for during the vaccination programme,” he said in a virtual press conference here today.

Saravanan said the act was amended to tackle the surge in Covid-19 cases among migrant workers in Malaysia.

He said several amendments gazetted under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) would apply during the emergency period.

“It was gazetted yesterday and will be effective throughout the emergency period up to August.”

When commenting on the national vaccination programme, he urged employers to report the existence of undocumented workers so they could be vaccinated as well.

He said any employer who fails to report any of their unregistered foreign workers can also be fined up to RM200,000 or jailed up to three years or both under Act 446.

The amendments also give powers to officers from six ministries, including the Housing and Local Government, Domestric Trade and Consumer Affairs, International Trade and Industry Ministries to enforce the act.

The Human Resources Ministry is also empowered to direct any department or agency to carry out enforcement on behalf of the ministry.

“However, the main focus of enforcement will be the 75,000 employers with foreign workers in Selangor, Johor and the Federal Territory involving sectors with the most number of Covid-19 cases.”

He said the three sectors with the most number of positive Covid-19 cases are manufacturing, construction and services.

He said the amendments also allowed the Labour Department director-general and ministry’s National Task Force to carry out their duties more effectively.

“We are also working with the Public Service Department, Home Ministry, Construction Industry Development Board, Public Works Department, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to help with enforcement elements,” he said.

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