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The Indonesian government has promised better protection of its citizens working as domestic workers in Malaysia through a requirement for Malaysian employers to offer social security protection and insurance coverage.
Indonesian Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah said both governments are in agreement that the requirement, proposed through ongoing bilateral negotiations, will be enforced as part of a "one channel system" of domestic workers recruitment and placement.
"One of our (Indonesia's) proposals, (is that) placement will be done through a one-channel system.
"It is a placement mechanism for protection of Indonesian domestic workers, hired by potential employers through an integrated database between Malaysia's Human Resource Ministry and our Manpower Ministry," she said.
"This system will make it mandatory for Malaysian employers to register their domestic workers in a social security programme or insurance scheme, according to set procedures," said Ida.
She was responding to concerns raised by a representative of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia who participated in an online discussion today that also featured Indonesian workers from other destination countries.
Social Security Organisation (Socso) chief executive Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed had in June announced that coverage for domestic workers will be enforced under the Employees' Social Security Act 1969.
He reportedly said registration will begin on June 16 and employers who failed to register their domestic workers could face a maximum penalty of two years' jail and a RM10,000 fine.
According to a News Straits Times report, Socso coverage for domestic workers is also extended to drivers, bodyguards, gardeners and others hired in relation to maintaining a household.
Last month, the Human Resources Ministry said both governments have in principle agreed to integrate existing systems in Malaysia and Indonesia to create the one-channel system and ensure a more transparent placement of Indonesian domestic helpers here.
Indonesian media previously reported that the one channel system aimed to reduce placement fees and simplify the related procedures while introducing better protection for domestic workers in Malaysia.
The proposal is also reportedly one of seven demands made by Indonesia through ongoing bilateral negotiations between Ida and Human Resource Minister M Saravanan as well as relevant bodies in both countries.
When contacted, migrant activist Nasrikah Sarah, who participated in the discussion, said registration of Indonesian domestic workers under Socso had begun but the process remains slow and cumbersome.
She also noted the current political instability in Malaysia could further delay ongoing negotiations to update the terms that had expired since 2016 leaving Indonesian domestic helpers in a vulnerable state.
"The political conditions in Malaysia will greatly affect any advocacy process. A change of leadership and minister will restart any ongoing lobbies," she said.