|Rights for Foreign Domestic Workers Must be Enshrined in Law|
KUALA LUMPUR, 26th June 2009: The recent decision by the Indonesian government to temporarily halt the sending of domestic workers highlights the increasing call to readdress the protection framework of foreign domestic workers (FDW). While this initial move will hopefully make the Malaysian government readdress the social, political and health rights of FDW, any permanent banning will lead to an increase in migrants resorting to undocumented means in efforts to support their families.
While the Indonesian government has sought to suspend the sending of nationals in an effort to readdress the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two countries, CARAM Asia strongly contends that any substantial differences can only be made through binding legal amendments to the Employment Act. It is only when such amendments include reference to FDW’s right to legal redress, access to health and education that migrant workers throughout the country will witness a real increase in their working lives.
Although the recent decision by the Ministry of Human Resources to provide all domestic workers with at least one day off a week has been met with hostility by some employers, we remind them that unlike domestic workers, they already have access to the legal mechanisms in order to lodge police reports when FDWs are alleged to have committed crimes. This is in direct contrast to all FDWs who have continually been denied access to legal redress mechanisms due to FDWs being confined in private homes without a day off.
In the interests of both the employee and employer, it is time that agencies responsible for labour recruitment process are held accountable for their actions in order to regulate the behaviour of agents.
The past two weeks have unfortunately highlighted the fact that domestic workers, be them national or migrants, are continually overlooked and underappreciated for their contributions to society. It is time that both the Malaysian government and the wider public sphere recognise domestic work as work and provide them with the same legal protection as any other worker.
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