Legal Reforms in Protecting Migrant Workers’ Welfare in Malaysia: Labor Law and Social Security
Keywords:forced labor, labor law, migrant worker, social security, worker accommodation
This article examines how Malaysia has sought to improve migrant workers’ welfare through the revision of its labor laws. Migrant workers’ welfare in Malaysia has been hindered by the absence of social security frameworks, outdated labor laws, multiple dependence on labor intermediaries, and employers’ lack of accountability. In 2019, two labor laws were amended based on International Labor Organization standards: the Workers’ Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act (1990) and the Employees’ Social Security Act (1969). The amendments have equalized the statutory protection between national and migrant workers, increased employers’ accountability for their migrant workers’ welfare, and addressed forced labor. With this legal framework, Malaysia’s migration management has been associated with better social security protection for migrant workers, which was previously absent from foreign worker policies. The legal reforms indicate the government’s attempt in solving the tension in Malaysia’s migration management, by ensuring balance between migrants’ welfare, labor market needs, and immigration control. These observations and analysis draw upon legislations, federal government gazettes, Hansard records, official reports of intergovernmental organizations, press statements of civil society actors, online newspapers, and secondary literature.
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