No labour law protection for Indonesian Domestic Workers

31 Jul 2006   |  ASEAN Migrant Workers   |  Malaysia  

Malaysia: No labour law protection for Indonesian Domestic Workers

Minister: No perks for Indonesian maids

Feb 13, 2006

The government is not likely to agree to Indonesia\'s proposal for better perks for its domestic maids, a report said today.

Home Affairs Minister Azmi Khalid said that allowing Indonesian maids to be hired under the country\'s labour law - which would provide for annual and sick leave, days off and overtime payment - would complicate matters for employers, said the New Straits Times.

\"The Indonesians want the maids to be given benefits contained in our labour laws,\" Azmi was quoted as saying.

 \"We have not agreed to the proposal that maids be accorded all the benefits under our labour laws. However, we are discussing several other proposals,\" he said without elaborating.

The two countries are currently thrashing out details for a memorandum of understanding on domestic maids from Indonesia. Azmi said the agreement is likely to be signed in May.

Psychological, sexual abuse

The government recently said it may soon make it mandatory for employers to bank the salaries of domestic maids, as part of efforts to prevent them from withholding wages.

Nearly 300,000 Indonesian maids work in Malaysia. The live-in maids often receive a salary averaging RM380 a month, far less than counterparts from the Philippines.

Many are forced to work long hours with little protection from labour laws and no annual leave, days off, or paid overtime.

Cases of \"maid abuse\" emerge regularly.

But employers say they already provide their maids with lodging, food and clothes, and regard them as part of the family.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch warned last year that foreign maids in Malaysia are prey to physical, psychological and sexual abuse because of flawed government policies and typically work 16 to 18 hour days.


Psychological report may be required to hire maid in future
May 21, 2005

KUALA LUMPUR   May 21 - A psychological report of a potential employer may be required in future before he could be allowed to hire a foreign maid.

This is one of the conditions being considered by both the Malaysian and Indonesian governments in the light of the case of Nirmala Bonat, 19, from Kupang in West Timor, Indonesia, who was badly abused by her employer.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said a background information on a potential employer would also be required.
- Utusan

\"Before we can allow an individual to take a foreign maid, we must know his background, whether he has a record that could be detrimental to the safety of the maid,\" he told reporters after meeting Indonesian ambassador Rusdihardjo at the embassay here on Friday.

Dr Fong said these conditions might be considered for inclusion in a special Memorandum of Understanding on recruitment of housemaids to be signed by both countries soon.

He said the MoU, to be inked in three months, would also require the foreign maids agency to visit the employer\'s home to check on the condition of the maid after a period of six months.

Rusdihardjo meanwhile hoped that stern action would be taken against those for inflicting injuries on Nirmala.

During the past four years, he said 26 cases of Indonesian maids being abused by their employers had been reported to the embassy.

The police detained on Wednesday a housewife where the teenage maid had been working for eight months.

CID Director Datuk Musa Hassan had said on Thursday that the husband could also be charged with abetting if police investigations revealed he was also involved.

IN a related development, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has proposed a three-pronged measure to prevent maid abuse in the future, including requiring employers to produce their foreign maids at least once a month to the regulatory authorities.

Its president, Senator Zainal Rampak said the regulatory authorities could be the Human Resources Ministry or Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

\"The maids should be interviewed in private in the absence of their employers,\" he said in a statement issued here on Friday.

He said there should be a national register of foreign maids to be maintained by the Human Resources Ministry, containing all contact particulars of foreign maids employed in the country.

The register, to be regularly updated, would enable enforcement agencies such as the police and immigration officials to effectively and quickly track down errant employers, known to be abusing their maids and institute legal proceedings against them.

He said the Ministry of Human Resources and the Home Affairs Ministry could also impose enforceable, non-negotiable conditions on employers applying to employ foreign maids.

\"These conditions, among others, should include payment of wages, hours of work, weekly rest days, freedom of worship, medical and health care, insurance coverage against death and physical disability, and safe repatriation to their home country upon completion of their employment contracts with full separation benefits,\" he added.

Zainal said MTUC expresed its strongest objections to the inhuman treatment meted out to Indonesian maid, Nirmala Bonat by her merciless employer as highlighted in the media.

He said the employer should be given the most severe punishment under the law to serve as a strong deterrent against others.

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