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Employers Must Cover Vaccination Costs for Foreign Workers

Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
Jan 11, 2021 at 5:20 AM

Recently, Malaysia's Human Resources Ministry announced that employers would bear the vaccination cost for their foreign workers. The ministry announced it a day after another ministry stated that the Government needed time to assess if it would cover the vaccination cost. 

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said that employers must cover all immunisation costs, including COVID-19 diagnosis. Last year, the Human Resources Ministry had made it compulsory for companies to pay for its foreign workers' screening and testing. 

The minister stated that the directive for employers to cover immunisation costs is under Section 24J of the Workers Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (a.k.a Act 446), which came into force on Jan 1, 2021.

Previously, the Covid-19 screening and testing cost up to a few hundred ringgit. Today, the cost has gotten cheaper as more facilities and sponsors are providing their services. After the mandatory screening policy enforcement, some companies claimed that the testing heavily affected their operating costs and requested government assistance.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin stated that migrant workers should be on the Covid-19 priority list.

It should be noted that the Covid-19 screening and tests are subsidised, but exclusively for foreign workers that contribute to the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO). 

The minister said some government agencies have started to conduct inspections on businesses that hire foreign workers. This inspection aims to raise employer awareness about the need to contain the dangerous disease's spread.


Employers must also provide quarantine centres

The Human Resources Minister also announced that employers must provide quarantine centres to isolate their foreign workers who contracted COVID-19. 

Based on a statement, the minister urged that employers must also see to the foreign workers' welfare during the quarantine period and bear their medical cost. Saravanan also said that the employers must instantly report to the Ministry of Health (MoH) if any foreign workers are found positive with Covid-19.

He said that employers have to be more proactive to curb the spread of the disease among their foreign workers, after the uptick in the positive COVID-19 cases which has reached over 125,000 cases. 


Employers disagree with the Government's decision

Industry stakeholders have criticised the Government's decision that requires employers to supply quarantine centres to isolate their foreign workers who are confirmed Covid-19 positive. The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) stated that it was not feasible for employers to set up their own centres.

FMM president Soh Thian Lai said that only competent health professionals should be entrusted with such responsibility, not those who are not trained to handle a contagious disease like COVID-19. He also warned the Government that the arrangement could lead to more people getting infected within the organisation.

He also said that it is not right for the Government to pass the responsibility on to a party who does not have the resources and professional training to operate a quarantine centre, which will lead to a catastrophic outcome.

Additionally, he explained that it has been challenging enough for businesses to rent house for foreign workers because of the stigma attached to the spread of infection among them. It will be even harder for companies to source and establish quarantine centres.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the Government should not force employers with added conditions and costs. Its Executive Director Shamsuddin Bardan noted that costs are a primary concern among employers.

He also said that while employers appreciate the Government's assistance, it should also bear all costs related to COVID-19. Soh agreed with Shamsuddin, saying that employers contributed to Socso for both local and foreign workers. He also added that it is time for SOCSO to assist companies are struggling to survive. 

NEW and latest Covid-19 SOPs, info and guidelines from the Government >> DOWNLOAD HERE

Sources: Malay MailThe Edge Markets & Free Malaysia Today

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