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The Malaysian government has announced that foreign workers will have to pay for their own hiring costs which were formerly paid by the employer. The move has been criticised by unions as discriminating against the country’s vast foreign workforce.
The levy payment will have to be made by migrant workers, many of whom are from countries such as Indonesia and India. Local media reports suggest the decision will be enforced immediately on new foreign workers. It will also include those wanting to renew their work passes, or temporary work visit passes.
Malaysia’s largest labour group, the Malaysian Trades Unions Congress, condemned the announcement. It now wants to file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“[The] Government’s sudden reversal of its policy requiring employers to pay the annual foreign worker levy is a great injustice against migrant workers,” the union said. The union also claimed that 75% of today’s workforce is made up of migrant workers.
The levy payment was first introduced 21 years ago and had to be paid by foreign workers until 2009 when then the burden was shifted to employers.