The Employment Restriction Act 1968 will be amended to impose stiffer penalty on employers who hire illegal foreign migrants, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low.
He said the amendment, to be tabled in Parliament in March, had proposed to raise the maximum fine from RM50,000 to RM100,000 for each illegal foreign migrant employed.
Low said the prohibitive measure was needed to safeguard foreign workers from running away and to curb illegal workers who posed greater risks to public safety and national security.
“We hope through this amendment, employers will hire foreign migrants through the proper channels. We want to put a stop to employers hiring illegals.
“The punishment for illegal foreign workers, if they are caught, is that they are most likely to be deported,” he told reporters after attending a dialogue session with more than 100 industry players and associations.
The dialogue session, chaired by Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali, saw employers voicing out their concerns over the Employers Mandatory Commitment (EMC) which came into force since Jan 1.
Asked on the Cabinet’s decision to postpone to next year, the implementation of levy payment on foreign workers by employers, Low explained that the decision was made after considering requests from employers who wanted a grace period to adjust to the new policy.
“The government felt it would be appropriate to postpone it in order to comply with the requests of employers as they feel it is an extra cost to them, especially when the world economy is slowing down,” he added.
To a question raised during the dialogue session, Low said he would bring up the rehiring programme fee of RM1,134.52 for the foreign worker permit via MyEG Services (MyEG), to the government and relevant authorities.
“I heard the complaints and we will look into the process itself and obviously, there must be value added to the fee. You cannot charge something if it does not fulfil the service,” he said.
Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary-general A.T. Kumararajah had raised a concern on why a third party (MyEG) needed to handle permit renewals when it had been managed efficiently by the Immigration Department in the past.
The total cost of hiring an illegal under the rehiring programme is RM4,787.52.