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Employers Must Surrender Passport


PUTRAJAYA, June 17 (Bernama) -- Employers holding on to the passport of their foreign maids must surrender the travel document if requested by the maids.

Failure to surrender the passport on the request will result in a RM10,000 fine under amendments to the Employment Act 1955.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, in announcing this here today, however, said foreign maids could only request for their passport, which was kept for security and other legitimate reasons, to be used for official use like the renewal of their visa.

"If the maid wants to leave and requests for the passport, it should be handed to her. The amendments also put the onus on the employer to ensure that the visa of the domestic helper is renewed on time.

"If the visa is not renewed, then the employer is also liable to a fine," he told a press conference after meeting the Indian Human Resource Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, at a leading hotel here.

Tuesday, Dr Subramaniam announced that under the amendments to the Employment Act, all foreign maids would be entitled to one day leave a week.

"We discussed with a lot of people before making this change. It is not something new as it is already in our Employment Act. Only maids, except those from the Philippines, have been exempted from this ruling.

"The off day may not necessarily be a Sunday or a public holiday. It can be mutually agreed upon by the maid and the employer. This move was requested not only by the government but also workers' representatives and non-governmental organisations," he said.

Dr Subramaniam said employers, with the mutual consent of their maids, could also compensate them if they were not given leave.

The ministry, he said, would provide a booklet to each foreign maid entering the country, containing all important information including their rights and legal recourse in case of any problem in their employment.

"If there is a breach of contract by the employer, then the maid with the aid of the booklet will be able to lodge a report with the relevant authority," he said.

Meanwhile, he said the government had yet to decide whether to allow maids from China to work in Malaysia.

"Initially, when we looked at this, it received opposition from several quarters of the Chinese community, but now we don't know if the situation has changed," he added.