MoHR, Motac work together for migrant workers’ temporary housing

Temporary accommodations encompass centralised labour quarters that have been certified by the JTKSM

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by BERNAMA

THE Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR) is working with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) in preparing temporary accommodations for foreign workers who were transferred from their original living quarters that did not meet Act 446 standards.

He said the temporary accommodations encompass centralised labour quarters that have been certified by the Department of Labour Peninsular Malaysia (JTKSM), as well as hotels registered under Motac.

“The temporary accommodation package involves a rental cost of RM200 and utility cost of RM20 a month for each worker and this will be borne by the employer, as well as those who provided the accommodations,” MoHR Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said.

“Coordination is also made with the Land Public Transport Agency to get a list of bus operators who will provide transportation for workers transferred from the original placement to temporary placement, as well as transportation for workers to their places of work. The cost of transportation is estimated at RM50 per month for each worker and is borne by the accommodation owner,” he added.

Local authorities will participate and work together to expedite the approval process for construction of centralised accommodation including giving permission flexibility to the development of accommodation centred on residential areas.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported Motac as saying that migrant workers will be housed in near-empty hotels across the nation to tackle the worsening spread of Covid-19 cases due to workplace clusters.

The programme will help curb the virus outbreak and indirectly assist hotel operators hurt by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Saravanan said the Emergency Ordinance (Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities) 2021 has been gazetted where employers or owners of accommodation who fail to provide proper housing facilities for workers can be fined RM200,000 or jailed for up to three years, or both.

With the Emergency Ordinance, gazetted on Feb 17, in place, the Act 446 can now be applied in Sabah and Sarawak too.

He said the JTKSM DG is authorised to order owners of accommodation to replace, change or repair the accommodation that does not comply with Act 446 and to move workers immediately from the overcrowded and uninhabitable accommodation to temporary accommodation set by the department.

“In this case, the accommodation owner will bear all the transportation costs from the original accommodation to the temporary accommodation, round-trip transportation to work and temporary accommodation, and the rental cost of temporary accommodation,” he said.

This is one of the initiatives taken to comply with workers’ accommodation throughout the country to control the transmission of Covid-19.

The second initiative is through the drafting of two new rules under Act 446 where it will be compulsory for employers to provide accommodation for all foreign workers they hire, with the exception of domestic helpers.

According to Saravanan, offences committed under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Regulations will now be compoundable.

On vaccination for foreign workers, he said it is also an offence under the Act 446 for employers who fail to get their migrant worker or his employee living in accommodation to be vaccinated.

“Enforcement will concentrate mainly on the 75,000 employers with foreign workers in three states — Selangor, Johor and Kuala Lumpur — and in three sectors with the most positive cases, which are manufacturing, construction and services,” he said.