PETALING JAYA,Nov 30: Rights groups have renewed calls for a specific law for domestic workers, saying existing regulations do not fully protect them.
An Indonesian domestic worker, known only as MH, was reportedly rescued by police from her Malaysian employer last Tuesday.
Tenaganita executive director Glorene Das and North-South Initiative director Adrian Pereira said domestic workers are excluded from many of the Employment Act’s provisions
While the International Labour Organization and the human resources ministry have introduced guidelines for employers of domestic workers, Das said questions remained over the effectiveness of the rules and monitoring mechanisms.
“We need separate legislation for domestic workers which would serve to protect them despite their complex nature of work. Specific measures like ensuring they have an off day, providing them phone numbers to contact for help, and bank accounts are interim measures and they must be backed by strong legislation,” she said.
She decried the lack of political will to protect the rights of domestic workers.
Pereira said a law for domestic workers must also ensure they received equal pay for work of equal value. “Their working hours are not defined, they do not all get days off, many are not even allowed to leave the house. This shouldn’t happen in 2020.”
He said there was a need for better monitoring systems with more resources and power channeled to labour inspectors to carry out more frequent checks on the well-being of domestic workers. Labour inspectors should be well trained, able to identify forced labour and be free of corruption.
“We must allow domestic workers, local and foreign, to unionise so they can better protect their rights and interests.”
The MH case is the latest involving Malaysian employers of foreign domestic workers.
In February 2018, an Indonesian maid, Adelina Lisao, was found dead outside her employer’s home in Penang, with her head and face swollen and covered in wounds. The case triggered diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and Indonesia.