The new labour agreement between Nepal and Malaysia has relieved Nepali workers of all the expenses, including recruitment service charge, airfare, visa fee, and medical check-up and security screening costs, which Malaysia-bound workers were required to pay earlier.
The much-needed relief for tens of thousands of Nepali migrant workers comes as the two countries, after months of negotiations, inked a labour deal on Monday.
Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista and Malaysian Human Resource Minister M Kulasegaran signed the memorandum of understanding on the Recruitment, Employment, and Repatriation of Workers at an event in the Capital.
The first ever labour pact between Nepal and Malaysia, which recognised Nepal as a labour source country in 2001, exempts workers from the charges as the Malaysian employer will bear all the expenses of recruiting workers.
“The agreement will heighten relations between the two countries. The labour pact will be a milestone for both the countries in making labour migration safer, and more dignified and transparent,” Minister Bista said.
Kulasegaran said the deal would prevent forced labour exploitation and trafficking of workers from external forces. As agreed, the Malaysian employer will cover all the expenses, including the service paid to recruitment agencies.
This comes as a huge respite for workers who paid at least Rs80,000, the ceiling set by Nepal in 2010, on top of several other costs, to go to Malaysia for employment.
The service charge paid to the recruitment agencies will now be equivalent to the individual worker’s pay for 15 days, paid by the employer. Workers’ costs for getting Malaysian jobs will come down drastically as employers will also refund the initial charges for medical check-up and security screening, in the first month of taking up the job in Malaysia.
According to Kulasegaran, the total amount a migrant worker pays in the application phase should not exceed 505 Malaysian Ringgit (approx Rs14,134). “Basically, we have rearranged everything so that Nepali workers can come to Malaysia on minimum expenses,” he said.
“The objective of the understanding is to ensure the protection and welfare of the workers in accordance with labour laws in Malaysia. The current MoU is in line with the principles set up by the ILO and other existing labour laws.”
The labour contract of workers will be for two years, down from the earlier three. The monthly salary of workers, which will be in accordance with the minimum wage policy of the Malaysian government, will be deposited to the worker’s bank account before the 7th day of the month.
Additionally, workers will not have to pay the levy imposed on foreign workers any more, states the labour pact. It also allows Nepalis to return home on a 15-day leave in case of death of an immediate family member.
The agreement holds the employer responsible for sending back the bodies of workers who die in Malaysia. They are required to inform the Nepali embassy immediately in the event of any tragic incident. Nepali workers will get accident and illness insurance. The agreement also ensures the worker a labour contract translated into Nepali.
The workers can sign the contract in Nepal. According to the Malaysian minister, the labour contract in Nepali language will let workers understand the terms and conditions of the job before committing to work. The employer will not be able to hold the workers’ passports.
As of September 30, the number of documented Nepali workers in Malaysia is 358,211, the second biggest foreign labour force in the country.
A technical joint working group, consisting of officials from both the countries, has been set up for effective implementation of the agreement. It will also suggest the mechanism necessary for resuming labour migration to Malaysia. Labour migration to Malaysia has remained suspended since May when Nepal launched a crackdown on various agencies that charged hefty amounts under several headings from Malaysia-bound workers.