CONTRACTORS FOR LABOUR: Confusion over Exemption Order
I REFER to the Employment (Amendment) Act 2011, which came into force recently. The act, among other things, introduces a definition of "contractor for labour" and a new Section 33A into the Employment Act 1955.
According to the definition, a contractor for labour is a person who contracts with the principal, contractor or sub-contractor to supply the labour for the execution of any work.
Section 33A requires contractors for labour to register with the director-general of labour before supplying employees and to maintain the information of employees.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) was against these provisions and protested.
Following a meeting with the MTUC, the human resources minister proposed that the contentious amendments pertaining to contractors for labour would only apply to the plantation and agricultural sectors, and all other sectors would be exempted from the provisions. MTUC agreed.
The minister then followed this up by making the Employment (Exemption) Order 2012 on March 27, which was acceptable to MTUC and put a stop to its protests.
The question is: what is the real effect of the Exemption Order?
The MTUC president and human resources minister, by virtue of their statements or actions, apparently perceive that the Exemption Order disallows contractors for labour to supply workers in all sectors, except the plantation sector. However, in my view, this is contrary to the meaning of the word "exemption" and actual effect of Section 33A.
The Exemption Order, read together with Section 33A, simply means that only contractors for labour, who supply workers in the plantation sector, are required to register with the D-G before supplying workers and to maintain the information of supplied workers.
Furthermore, the Exemption Order also grants exemption in respect to sections 31, 69 and 73 of the EA.
Unlike Section 33A, these do not involve any requirement or obligation imposed on the contractors for labour for which exemption could be granted. As such, what is the purpose of such an exemption?
As Section 33A affects the operation of labour suppliers, particularly, so-called outsourcing companies licensed by the Home Ministry to import foreign workers and supply them to local industrial manufacturers and business operators, it is important that the effect of the Exemption Order is understood by all.
I urge the human resources minister to study the Exemption Order again and issue a public statement to clarify the issue.
Chen Voon Shian, for Transport Workers Union, Petaling Jaya, Selangor