Fast Foreign Workers’ Approval For Critical Industries Aimed At Recovering Businesses But Regulations Remain – HR Minister Sivakumar

Speaking to reporters following the KLSICCI town hall session, Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar said town hall sessions were good platforms to engage with industry players and gauge their needs and concerns. He said the session was fruitful and also a “learning” session for him. Photo by Weekly Echo.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 – The three-day conditional approval given for employers qualified to employ foreign workers is only meant for critical industries, and they still have to meet all conditions and regulations set and checks will be carried out on them after six months, Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar said during a town hall session organised by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KLSICCI) here on Wednesday evening.

While the faster approval and quota given at the same time is meant to help businesses recover in five critical sectors and sub sectors, namely construction, manufacturing, farming, agriculture and services (restaurants) following the debilitating effects from Covid-19 pandemic, there are no changes in the regulations such as the need for employers to put in place housing for the workers, proper wages and so on.

Sivakumar said there was still some confusion related to the approval as it had taken months previously to get approvals for foreign workers. This is understandable as the processes involved do take months such as the verification of the applicants by ministry officials, the need for the employers to advertise for local workers in the first place, checking on their capacities and on whether they qualify for foreign workers and meet other regulations, he said.

“These processes would still be carried out, the only difference is we are giving those who qualify, their approvals and quota first, to speed up their recovery. The processes and the inspection on compliance by authorities like the immigration and other agencies will still go on to ensure that all set rules are being met.”

Explaining the reason for the “reversal in process”, he said some of these industries were suffering without sufficient workers and there was a real demand for them and with the threat of recession, the Prime Minister wanted to ensure that the industries recover, and that is why the flexibility in approval was given, he said.

He also added that his ministry and the Home Ministry worked together to finally reach the three-day approval following several sessions of reviews, brainstorming sessions and the prime minister’s insistence on a faster approval system. They had also earlier proposed a one month approval system to the prime minister, which was rejected.

Under the temporary solution, the employers in the critical sectors also do not have to put out advertisements for local workers, and those who qualify will be given the approval and quota but there will be no inspection by the authorities for now but only six months later, he added.

Meanwhile, a participant at the town hall session commended the ministry’s efforts but added that perhaps rather than wait for six months to check on the employers hiring foreign workers, random checks should be also carried out on the employers to see their progress of compliance to the set regulations.