Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bosses Can’t Refuse Requests For Travel Documents
Thursday June 18, 2009

PUTRAJAYA: Employers holding on to the passport of their foreign maids must surrender the travel document if and when the maids ask for it.

Human Resource Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam said employers did not have the right to refuse the request from the maids for any reason, especially when they wanted to quit or leave the country.

“Failure to surrender the passport on the request will result in a RM10,000 fine under amendments to the Employment Act 1955,” he told a press conference after meeting Indian Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal here yesterday, Employers who decide to hold on to the passports would be responsible for renewing their maids’ work permits, he said.

On the proposal to make it mandatory for employers to grant one day off in a week to their maids, he said it was already in the law, and not something new.

He also said the day off could be on any day agreed upon by employers and their maids.

Meanwhile, Wanita MCA chairman Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said any new regulation should be fair to both employers and maids.

“Wanita MCA is aware of the problems encountered by employers when foreign maids run away. They would have to fork out fines in addition to losing over RM5,000 paid for agency fees,” she said in a statement.

Chew also called for laws to protect employers against unscrupulous maid agencies which colluded with maids to abscond.

“There must be adequate laws to not only prosecute foreign maids but also hold the agencies accountable when the maids assault those under their charge,” she added.

Indonesian embassy minister counsellor for information, social and culture Widyarka Ryananta said Indonesian maids were entitled to a day off a week and this was a normal practice in other countries, He said giving a day off would not only benefit the maids but also be good for Malaysia’s image, which had come under international scrutiny from bodies like the International Labour Organisation due to recent maid abuse cases.

Second secretary (consular affairs) Susapto Anggoro Broto said Indonesia wanted the maids to receive a portion of their salary in the first month that they started working instead of the current practice of getting paid after six months.

“Protection of migrant workers is a vital issue. We need to sit down together and discuss the terms and we hope to discuss not just salary but also cost structure and other aspects,” he said, adding that a meeting could be held as soon as next month.

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