Now for those of you whose companies are in the restaurant or other service-oriented businesses, you need to be aware that the Government has now put a very short rein on hiring foreigners for your sector: foreign workers are only allowed to be hired as "tukang masak" (cooks). Even so, they will only allow you to hire foreigners, if you can show proof that you have exhausted all recruitment endeavours to hire locals and none were considered suitable, or, if you do not have enough local manpower to man the kitchen of your very large and very busy food outlet.
You cannot even hire foreigners for cutting your chicken or mopping your floor. For good measure, I would also like to remind you that you cannot hire them as front of house crew.
So what does your agent do now in view of these circumstances? Well, these can be the likely scenarios:-
- They may "recycle" workers who were sacked from other companies. The problem with this is, the workers's permits will be under another company's name, which of course renders it illegal for you to employ them in your premises. The agent may tell you that whatever company's name stated in the permit is their associate company. Well, use your logic. If these workers were hired specifically for you, how in the world did they get a permit even before they were given the job? And do check the dates in the permit: I can tell you it is very likely that they will only have a couple of months left before their permit expires.
- The agents may give you refugee status individuals, and give you a chocolate box of excuses why they do not carry a work permit with them. The agents will tell you that it is only for temporary measure while they source for "permanent" workers for you, or that their permits are in progress, etc. Bollocks. Reject these workers at once and cancel your agreement with the agent.
- The agents may be going through the back door. You can spot this when they ask for exorbitant amounts of money to cover various odd -sounding costs and fees, or when they ask for documents such as your original bank statements and EPF or SOCSO statements. NEVER give the agents any originals and for your information, your bank statements are not required. Tell the agent that during the interview with KDN, you want to be present as your employer's representative and you will being all the originals yourself if the KDN officer needs to sight them. If the agent refuses, terminate your contract with them and call KDN immediately to check on your application status. And please don't do back doors. If you get caught, it will be too expensive. And I'm not just talking about ringgits.
So what can employers do? I know it is hard, I am facing the same quandary too. We need to do something to attract the locals to work. Like I said before, the Government needs to ensure that business in Malaysia can afford to pay better wages and benefits to our local people. It's not that business do not want to hire locals, but locals do not want to work. Mindsets can't be changed in a jiffy, but economic policies can be reviewed a lot faster. It's a two-way street.
Till then, at the risk of sounding like a JTK officer, we employers just need to get creative (though I really don't know how else) to get enough people to get our business going - while all the time hoping this phase will not last.