New plan to stop foreign workers bringing in contagious diseases

Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran says several thousand workers with contagious diseases have gone into hiding in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is exploring the possibility of sending new foreign workers arriving in the country for immediate medical screening.

Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran said this will prevent foreign workers bringing all sorts of diseases into the country.

He said several thousand workers had gone into hiding once they found out they had failed their medical examination and were now working illegally elsewhere.

This has created a big headache for the authorities and employers who had brought them in.

Kula said the plan was to have the government itself screen the workers when they arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“We can put them in one of our centres, do the health screening immediately and do the induction course for three to four days.

“If they’re not medically fit, the immigration can send them back to their home countries.”

Kula said the Cabinet had discussed this matter and the ministry will have the technical committee under the national advisory council for labour laws to look into the feasibility of this programme.

The panel will also discuss the expenses and logistics involved, he added.

Speaking after chairing the fourth National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meeting here today, Kula said many foreign workers given a clean bill of health by their countries of origin were found to have tuberculosis or other contagious diseases after undergoing a medical checkup on arrival.

He explained that, currently, when a worker arrives in Malaysia, he or she will go directly to the employer.

“Within 30 days, the medical report on the worker must be done,” he said, adding that some would wait till the last minute to send in their blood samples for testing and run away when found with any diseases.

On another matter, Kula said the technical committee will also look into a proposal to allow paid compassionate leave of up to three days for employees in the private sector who have lost a close family member.

The issue was brought up by representatives from the women, family and community development ministry, he said.

Kula said at present only some private employers, notably the bigger companies, are providing such leave and this was included in their collective agreements or employment contracts.

However, the minister said there was a need to reach out to all other companies in the private sector, particularly those employing a small staff, so their employees would be entitled to such leave.

“For the government sector, compassionate leave is three days. We will send this suggestion to the technical committee to let them decide.”

Shamsuddin Bardan, executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation, who participated in the meeting, hoped the private sector will be allowed flexibility in this matter.