| Siti Hajar |
FOLLOWING a series of moves implemented by the government towards promoting private sector growth, the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Labour Department yesterday announced yet another change in policy that will shorten the waiting period to employ foreign workers.
At a press conference held yesterday at the Labour building in Berakas, Ministry of Home Affairs’ Permanent Secretary, Hj Mohd ‘Abdoh bin Dato Seri Setia Haji Abdul Salam, and Acting Labour Commissioner, Haji Rani bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof, said businesses can now obtain the Special Permission Licence that will take only seven working days to process.
The Special Permission Licence, as a complement to the recent introduction of Business Licence earlier this year, aims to ensure that businesses can operate at their earliest as they await approval for the Foreign Workers Recruitment Licence that takes 21 working days to process.
However, the pass will only be valid for six months, at the end of which businesses should have already obtained the Foreign Workers Recruitment Licence. The application for the latter should be submitted before or alongside the application for the Special Permission Licence as part of conditions to qualify for this new pro-business incentive.
The Special Permission Licence is applicable to establishments that include restaurants, tuck shops, supermarkets and department stores, textile and garment shops within specified zones. These zones are divided into three categories namely semi-urban areas where establishments are limited to hiring 20 per cent foreign workers whilst those in township areas are limited to hiring 30 per cent foreign workers with the remaining staff being locals. Shops in rural areas do not have foreign worker quotas.
In order to promote hiring of more locals, companies that apply for Special Permission Licence must have in their employment at least one local excluding the business owner to qualify for it.
With the government encouraging the private sector to recruit more locals, the freezing of work quota for certain jobs still stands, as priority will be given to locals for positions such as supervisors, labourers, shop assistants, drivers/deliverymen and cashiers.
Other conditions include, but not limited to, ensuring that employees are provided with housing; the intended foreign worker is not registered under any other working pass with any company or employer; that the foreign worker is provided with Workmen’s Compensation Insurance and Medical Insurance and; a written contract between employee and employer authorised by the Labour Department – all of which are to ensure that an employee’s rights are respected and consistent with what has been stated in the Work Order, 2009.
To obtain the licence, one has to have a valid Business Licence issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs followed by a Special Permission Licence request to the Labour Department. The employer will also be asked at the same time to apply for the Foreign Workers Recruitment Licence if he/she has not done so.
More information can be obtained directly from the Labour Department or by calling 2383006.