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PUTRAJAYA, April 22 -- The government has agreed to extend the Labour Recalibration Programme to employers in services subsectors, according to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
He said the subsectors involved were restaurants; cargo; wholesale and retail; as well as cleaning and washing.
He said the agreement was reached in a joint committee meeting chaired by himself and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan on the management of foreign workers here today
"This decision was made to help the government to revive the country's economy immediately and to prevent critical sectors such as construction, manufacturing, plantations and services from suffering huge losses due to labour shortages," he said in a press conference after the meeting.
The labour recalibration programme was launched by the government last November to regularise the foreign workforce in the country without the involvement of third parties.
Previously, only employers in 3D (dangerous, difficult and dirty) sectors were allowed to re-employ illegal immigrants as workers from 15 source countries, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Commenting further, Hamzah said the eligibility for participation in the labour recalibration programme was also extended to illegal immigrants who had registered for the Rehiring Programme and the Comprehensive Settlement Programme for Illegal Immigrants (6P Programme).
“This includes those who did not complete the application process and did not receive a Temporary Employment Visit Pass (PLKS) through these programmes.
"Participation is also extended to illegal immigrants who have absconded from their employers but were not reported by the latter, and those who have genuine and valid travel documents," he said.
Hamzah said the meeting also agreed to involve Private Employment Agencies (APS) licensed under the Private Employment Agencies Act 1981 (Act 246) to help expedite the implementation of the programme.
"However, employers still need to come to the Immigration Department to carry out all the necessary processes such as biometrics and so on," he said.
Meanwhile, Hamzah informed that the committee meeting also decided to grant a moratorium to foreigners working on local fishing vessels from obtaining the short-term PLKS until Dec 31.
"After that date, the short-term PLKS is compulsory for all foreigners who work on local fishing vessels," he said.
The committee meeting also took note that the Cabinet on April 7 had agreed to extend the validity period of the PLKS for existing foreign workers in the plantation sector by one year, he said.
“This extension is only given to holders of the PLKS which is about to expire for the 13th year, with the levy based on the one charged in the final year.
"We announced this extension because we do not want the sector that is currently providing the highest returns to the country to suffer losses," he said, adding that his ministry had received a memorandum stating that the sector could potentially incur RM10 billion in losses due to labour shortage.