BUTTERWORTH: Employers should consider raising wages and providing more benefits to encourage locals to join the workforce, says human resources minister V Sivakumar.
Sivakumar said despite the abundance of jobs available in the country, Malaysians are opting to work abroad because of better pay and benefits.
He said locals were most notably heading to Singapore for work, with around 1.18 million Malaysian nationals employed there.
“Increasing the wage rates, despite the fact that it would increase (operational) costs, is something that we need to seriously look into for the long-term,” he told reporters after an event here.
“They (employers) can’t stick to the RM1,500 minimum wage rate and must look into how they can provide (higher) wages and additional facilities and benefits so that Malaysians would no longer choose to work overseas.”
Sivakumar was responding to remarks by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) that a government ruling requiring at least 80% of the workforce in manufacturing companies to comprise locals by the end of next year was impossible to achieve.
MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said, while there has been progress, meeting the target would be very challenging. He urged the government to review the policy.
In 2016, the then Barisan Nasional administration set Dec 31, 2022 as the deadline for the manufacturing sector to have an 80:20 local-foreign workforce ratio.
However, in July last year, then international trade and industry ministry deputy secretary-general (industry) Norazman Ayob announced that Malaysia’s manufacturing sector would not be required to comply with the ruling until the end of 2024, due to serious problems faced by the industry in attracting locals.
Sivakumar urged employers to make use of the initiatives offered by the government to meet the target, if they were concerned about higher operational costs in hiring locals.
He cited the targeted employment incentive, where RM1,800 will be given over a three-month period to workers who meet certain criteria and were unemployed for more than two months.
On a separate matter, Sivakumar said the human resources ministry was currently in the process of finalising policies to safeguard the welfare of gig workers and improve their social protection.
He added that he expected the policies to be finalised in the next two weeks.
As for the long-term, Sivakumar said a detailed study was required to draft an Act to protect gig workers.