Employers can be fined up to RM50k for violating Act 446

Enforcement teams from the relevant departments will conduct random checks to ensure compliance

by TMR/BERNAMA/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

EMPLOYERS who fail to comply with the amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) could face a maximum fine of RM50,000.

Enforcement of Act 446 was scheduled for June 1, 2020, but has been put off to Sept 1, 2020, to give employers time to make the necessary preparations.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said the amendments were passed in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in July last year before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

He pointed out that worker accommodations located either within or outside of construction sites must fulfil three basic aspects, namely safety, cleanliness and comfort, with adequate space for the residents and must comply with laws and regulations.

“Enforcement teams from the relevant departments such as Jabatan Tenaga Kerja (JTK) would conduct checks after Sept 1.

“The employers will be fined up to RM50,000 if they do not comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) under Act 446,” he told reporters during a visit to a construction workers’ accommodation in Bangsar South yesterday.

The SOPs include conducting cleanliness and disinfection exercises in common areas, providing facilities for washing and disinfecting hands, avoiding group activities and ensuring social distancing of at least one metre between workers.

Previously, Act 446 only covered the mining sector and plantations bigger than 8.09ha. Now, it has been extended to cover the housing and accommodation for workers in all sectors across Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan.

On the government’s decision to halt foreign workers’ intake until December, Saravanan urged employers who had no choice but to stop operation due to Covid-19 to report to JTK.

“This is so that we can align the affected sector as the reemployment process is currently in place,” he added.

The Malaysian Reserve in early July reported that the freezing of foreign workers’ intake until December would mostly affect the plantation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors.

The Malaysian Employers Federation ED Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the plantation sector is forecasted to suffer RM142 billion in their operations for the year due to a shortage of workers.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister (Infrastructure Cluster) Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said 84% of 3,282 construction sites are operating within the SOPs set by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Fadilah said checks conducted by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) from April 20 until July 5 found that only 1% of the sites were ordered to close, while another 15% were issued with warnings for non-compliance.

“Those which were closed by the Health Ministry after positive Covid-19 cases were detected have re-opened after their quarantine periods ended and no other workers were found to be positive of the disease.

“The majority of those who did not comply with the SOPs have now complied after they were issued warnings, while those who continued to disobey were not allowed to operate,” he said.

Commenting on projects that were delayed due to the Movement Control Order, Fadillah said those given the automatic three-month extension involved government projects.