Bosses must follow new housing standards for workers, minister says

Human Resources Minister M Saravanan (in white) and senior minister Fadillah Yusof (in blue) inspecting workers’ sleeping and bathing quarters during a visit to a workers’ hostel in Bangsar South.

KUALA LUMPUR: Human Resources Minister M Saravanan today reminded employers that the government will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to comply with the amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).

Amendments to the act came into force on June 1, mandating a minimum space requirement for workers’ accommodation, basic facilities as well as safety and hygiene standards.

While the government has given employers a grace period till Aug 31, several employer groups and stakeholders from the construction sector have voiced concern about their ability to comply with the amendments, especially due to the economic downturn and Covid-19.

“That is not a valid excuse,” Saravanan said today.

“The amendments were passed in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara last July, and that was before Covid-19. The rules are strong enough, and the fines can reach up to RM50,000.

“We’re not cruel. We can give them some leeway, but these companies have to follow the rules. We will start enforcement on Sept 1,” he said during a visit to a workers’ hostel in Bangsar South here.

Previously, Act 446 only covered the mining sector and plantations bigger than 20 acres (8.09ha). The amendments allow authorities to mandate housing and accommodation standards for workers in all sectors across Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister for Infrastructure Fadillah Yusof who was also present during the visit said 3,282 constriction sites across the country are currently in operation as they had proven that they follow SOPs to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during site visits by the Construction Industry Development Board.

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