EIS will stay, says minister

However, changes to the structure could be examined later

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) will be maintained by the present government without any tweaks at the moment.

Manpower Minister M Kulasegaran (picture) said the private sector retrenchment fund will not be repealed, but changes to the structure could be examined at a later stage.

“For now, the EIS will continue to be there without any changes, and it has started to benefit the contributors,” he told a media conference after a working visit to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) office in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Kulasegaran said to date, about 5,867 applications for the EIS fund have been approved by Socso, involving a total payment of RM3.5 million.

“Some 417 retrenched workers have been redeployed to other jobs,” he said, adding that the agency had received more than 7,000 applications.

The EIS, which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Dec 17, 2017, was targeted at assisting the private sector workers who lost their jobs to get financial assistance while finding new employment.

Under the EIS scheme, the contribution from employers will be 0.2% of an employee’s monthly salary, and likewise from the employee.

The implementation of the EIS would benefit and protect the interests of 6.5 million existing employees under the Employees Social Security Act 1969.

Kulasegaran said the ministry is also looking into reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign workers.

As such, the foreign workers policy is now subject for a review as priority should now be given to local workers.

“We will (only) allow foreign workers out of necessity. Priority is to be given to Malaysian workers, to our people first; think of Malaysians first, others come second,” he said.

He, however, said the government would not ask Bangladeshi workers, who are already legitimately working in Malaysia, to leave without due process.

“It takes some time. Those who are already here will not be asked to pack up and just go. They left their country to come here and we will do what we can,” he said.

He said the ministry would try to assist in filling up the job vacancies which were once taken up by foreign workers.

“In filling up the vacancies, we agree there must be retraining, among other matters. Our priority should always be on our workers, (because) certain industries are filled by foreign workers.

“If you go to New Zealand or Australia, you don’t find (many) foreign workers. We have to review this,” he said.

On Feb 18, 2016, Malaysia signed an agreement to receive 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers in stages for three years under the government-to-government mechanism.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran has instructed the Industrial Court to solve a backlog of over 2,000 cases in a month.

“They first said three months, but I have given them one month. I told them to work on weekends and public holidays,” he said.

The minister later visited the Industrial Court situated in the Socso office building.

“We cannot take so long because this matter involves workers, people’s lives. But the fast disposal of cases should be done diligently and properly heard,” he added.

As of April this year, only 912 cases from the 3,687 cases filed at the court have been concluded. There are 2,775 pending cases still.

The ministry has devised mechanisms to expedite some of the cases, it said in a statement prepared for the media.

The mechanisms include the setting up of 10 Task Force Courts to hear and dispose of cases filed last year and before, and the expediting of cases referred to by the minister.