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Forced labour: Loopholes in the law may keep M'sia in Tier 3 chasm

The lack of laws to enforce zero recruitment fees on migrant workers may be a lucrative loophole for employers in Malaysia but it will likely cause the country to remain in the bottom tier of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for a second year.

A government source confirmed that there was no legislation, policy or even directive to enforce the zero recruitment cost for migrant workers as part of the state’s effort to address debt bondage, exploitation and forced labour.

As a member-state of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Malaysia adopted a “no recruitment fee” concept from its Fair Recruitment Initiative in 2014.

“On April 1, 2019, the government verbally implemented it so every recruitment expense borne by the employer could not be deducted from workers’ salaries.

“This comprises recruitment fees and related costs including medical tests, insurance coverage, skills and qualification tests, travel and lodging, training, administrative and levy,” said the source.

However, apart from making announcements and statements, the government had not converted it into...

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