Employer and labour groups at odds over job switching rules

MALAYSIA: The Labour Law Reform Coalition, made up of union, academic, and activist groups, and the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) are at loggerheads over a push to allow foreign workers to switch companies if they become entangled in alleged forced labour conditions.

According to the coalition, there is a significant power imbalance between migrant workers and their employers in Malaysia. "The employers can misuse the rigid system (that requires workers to stay with one employer while in the country) to threaten the workers, which is tantamount to forced labour,” the coalition stated.

But MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman says the proposal is unjust to employers who have paid recruitment fees and taken risks with each hire. He believes the proposal could only work with proper mechanisms to ensure employers’ hiring expenses are offset.

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