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FMM: Do not delay foreign worker approval, continue with current procedure

FMM In The News: THE EDGE MARKETS, KUALA LUMPUR, Friday, August 12, 2022 - The foreign worker application procedure, which includes the decentralisation of the interview process via the One Stop Centre at the state labour offices to allow the industry a seamless process of foreign worker application, should not be stopped as it would disrupt economic recovery, said the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said in a statement that the recent announcement by the government on the impending changes to the procedure has created much confusion as well as anxiety within the industry.

This, he said, is because many employers are still in the process of replacing their workers that left during the pandemic period following the freeze on recruitment for a period of two years, while others are in the process of expansion due to an increase in demand and the need to fulfil the backlog in orders.

On Aug 5, the Ministry of Human Resources said applications to hire foreign workers would be stopped temporarily from Aug 15 to 31, to enable a review of the foreign worker procedure, following the Employment (Amendment) Act 2022 that would be enforced from Sept 1.

The new procedure for foreign worker applications beginning from Sept 1 would be announced soon, the ministry added.

Soh said FMM's request for the current foreign worker procedure to be maintained is made in light of four current factors.

Firstly, the decentralisation of the interview process via the One Stop Centre at the state labour offices, which was only introduced from Aug 1, is deemed to be "very facilitative" to address the bottleneck in the interview process and ease the travelling and congestion at the ministry's One Stop Centre in Putrajaya.

Secondly, the frequent suspension of the processing of foreign worker applications is very disruptive to the planning of the industries in getting their workers during this very critical period, said Soh, stressing that industries continue to face numerous challenges to their operations, including labour shortages, impairing their ability to operate at maximum capacity towards business recovery.

Thirdly, employers require more time to submit their applications as worker requirements are dependent on projects and orders, said Soh. "The stoppage and any changes to the procedure will derail the manpower planning of the industry, leading to their inability to fulfil their projects and orders," he said.

Finally, there are still many applications pending processing and approval but the industry requires a very efficient processing system for a quick turnaround on the applications, he said.

"As such, FMM reiterates its call for the ministry to maintain the current application procedure and conditions as the labour shortages faced now are extremely serious and impacting the pace of business recovery and ability of businesses to fulfil orders with fear of losing orders and customers or face stiff penalties for delays," said Soh.

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