Foreigners Are Only Allowed To Be Hired As Cooks, Immigration Department Says

Foreign workers are not allowed to work as front liners in the service industry.

Cover image via Jas Duit

On Monday, the Immigration Department said that it is illegal for foreign workers to work in restaurants and eateries, unless they are hired as cooks

Image via The Sun Daily

According to The Star, Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said that the policy which forbids foreign workers to work as a front of house staff in restaurants and eateries will remain until lawmakers change it.

However, the director-general said many outlets are still hiring workers as cashiers, waiters, and salespersons despite the immigration regulation being clear on the policy

Image via Time Out KL

Mustafar expressed his disappointments as checks conducted by the department showed that most employers disregard the law.

"Their actions contribute to the influx of illegal foreign workers as there is high demand for them."

There are now 71,515 foreign workers legally employed in restaurants across the country. According to Immigration records, the department has conducted 3,844 enforcement raids since January and examined 47,129 foreigners.

The operations saw 10,378 foreign workers held for various immigration offences.

A joint committee representing restaurateurs blamed the difficulty to rehire foreign workers as one of the reasons to why some 2,000 Chinese coffee shops and 400 Indian-Muslim and banana leafs restaurants went out of business in 2017

As reported by The Star, Malay­sian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) secretary-general T. Thanabalan said rehiring workers has become an obstacle for owners as they need to go through a strict process to adhere to the requirements set by the government and agencies.

"The problem of getting approval for foreign workers has been unresolved for three years."

Thanabalan said Malaysia might see traditional eateries die out as most owners are struggling with lack of manpower.

According to Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association (MSC) president Ho Su Mong around 2,000 to 3,000 of its members throughout the country ceased operations in 2017.

He said Chinese coffee shop owners would suffer greatly if the government continues to ignore the importance of foreign workers as part of a restaurant's operations.

Meanwhile, Mustafar said restaurant owners can hire foreign workers through immigration department's re-hiring programme but only to employ cooks as the government seeks to reduce the number of illegal immigrants

"I hope this is clear because we will take action against those who engage the services of foreign workers to work in restaurants other than being cooks."

A quick check on Immigration Department's official website revealed that foreign workers who enter the country with Visit Pass (Temporary Employment) [VP(TE)] are not allowed to work as front liners

Workers who violate their social visit pass can be charged under Rule 39(b) of the Immigration Regulations 1963. If found guilty, it is punishable by a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both.

In this case, the employers can also be charged under Section 55B, 55E and 56(1)(d) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.

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