Indefinite bar of foreign maids a bane for employment agencies

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by TMR FILE

LOCAL employment agencies are not sure when foreign domestic helpers or maids can enter the country.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi said as long as international borders remain closed, the Foreign Worker Centralised Management System (FWCMS) will not process applications of foreign maids.

“We have to be answerable to our clients regarding this matter,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently, adding that agencies are now dealing with three types of scenarios.

The first is where maids whose Visa with Reference or “calling visa” was already approved before the Movement Control Order, but are not permitted to enter the country.

Secondly, there are maids whose submitted applications have not been processed by FWCMS although their agencies have given their deposits to the foreign recruitment agency.

“For example, a Malaysian agency has paid the deposit to its foreign counterpart in the range of RM6,000 to RM10,000 per person, but the latter is also facing problems, especially for source countries like Indonesia and the Philippines,” Foo said.

Finally, due to Covid-19, the source countries have stopped sending out their domestic workers and have instructed the foreign recruitment agency to send the maids from the training centre back to their hometowns.

Foo said the private employment agencies (APS) have not had any business since March when the country’s borders were closed, barring foreign maids from entering.

“We have requested the human resources minister to amend the Private Employment Agencies Act 1981. Under the Act, we must place the money guarantee of our licences to the Labour Department of Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM) and we ask the minister to revise the amount.

“We have written to the minister and requested for him to consider reducing the amount by 20% so that the APS can get through this hard time.”

The APS in Malaysia must hold a licence under the Act before they can carry out any recruiting activity or face legal consequences for non-compliance.

Licences under the Act are classified into three categories of job placement with different paid-up capital and money guarantee requirements.

Licence A is for job placement for a jobseeker within Malaysia; licence B is for job placement for a jobseeker within and outside Malaysia, and foreign domestic servant within Malaysia; and licence C is for job placement for a jobseeker

within and outside Malaysia, and non-citizen employee within Malaysia.

APS has been paying money guarantees worth RM50,000, RM100,000 and RM250,00 to JTKSM for each licence category respectively.

“We hope that the agencies in Indonesia and the Philippines can survive through this pandemic. Otherwise, the money paid to them will be gone and the Malaysian agency will have to get the maids from elsewhere, which means they must pay another deposit.

“We need the government to help us get back the money. We are still willing to pay the money guarantee to the ministry, but we need them to help us,” said Foo.

He also pointed out that throughout Malaysia, there are 977 active APS that can play an important role in getting locals employed.

“We have our customer base and we are willing to recruit locals, but we also have to sustain our offices.

“If the government can reduce the money guarantee, we can have some liquidity to venture into local recruitment.”

Foo told TMR that some agencies are planning to shut down their offices as there has been no business at all, but they are still paying monthly salaries.

“We have reached out to the ministry, so they are aware of it. However, our plea for the reduction of the money guarantee did not seem to receive a good response from them.”