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FMM: Low approval rate for foreign labour applications a major challenge to economy’s recovery

FMM In The News: THE EDGE MARKETS, KUALA LUMPUR, Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has expressed concern over the low approval rate of foreign worker applications, saying it is a major challenge to the economy's recovery.

Noting that the manufacturing sector recorded the highest number of applications, FMM said in a statement: “The 0.55% approval rate is most troubling given the industry’s dire need of workers to support their business recovery and expansion with the anticipated pickup in sales including external demand.”

Citing news reports, the statement said there were applications that could not be processed due to incomplete documents and information, and there were also companies that exceeded their quota.

“FMM welcomes the fact that the application process is now completely online as this would ensure a more efficient and transparent application process with minimal human intervention. Nevertheless, it is important for the authorities to provide employers with a clear, consistent and transparent process flow of the application process including the guidelines, criteria, documentation, and terms and conditions to ensure a smooth and expeditious application process.

“This is particularly crucial given that the entire application process has now migrated to the Foreign Worker Centralised Management System (FWCMS) where previously the FWCMS was only used for the application of the calling visa.

“Employers may not be entirely clear with the new application process flow and requirements thus leading to some of the teething issues as cited in the media reports,” the statement added.

FMM also called for the current 30-day mandatory posting period under MyFutureJobs to be shortened, noting that the legitimacy of the need to hire foreign workers is established, as employers would not choose foreign workers if they can fill their vacancies with local workers.

“On the seven-day quarantine period for foreign workers which we understand is still applicable, FMM has suggested for companies be allowed to take the workers to their accommodation facility to carry out the quarantine period as well as all the necessary tests and medical check-up that need to be done instead of at the government approved quarantine centres which are mainly located in the Klang Valley area only.

“This would shorten the waiting period for employers to process the work permits for the workers,” the statement said.

FMM said it hopes for more clarity and consistency in the application process to expedite the approvals and entry of workers to meet the industry's labour needs, saying any further delay in obtaining workers would seriously hinder the industry's sustainability and recovery.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan was reported saying that 475,678 applications for the recruitment of foreign workers had been received as of April 1.

The application for recruitment of foreign workers in all sectors of employment was open on Feb 15.

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