KUALA LUMPUR:Syrian refugees will be paid the same wages as local workers if they are employed, but as of now, government policy does not allow refugees to hold jobs.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem said under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Employment Act, there can be no discrimination in wages, but pointed out that Malaysia does not allow refugees to hold jobs.
"Under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Employment Act, there can be no discrimination in wages, refugees will be paid the same amount as local employees.
"But as of now, they are not allowed to work in Malaysia," Richard told the press when asked to comment on the government's plans to provide some 3,000 Syrian refugees temporary jobs.
He said the same applies to all refugees under the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and it is up to the government to decide otherwise.
Riot was commenting on the government's plan to provide temporary jobs to some 3,000 Syrian refugees.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak declared at the United Nations General Assembly that Malaysia will be taking in about 3,000 refugees from war-torn Syria.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi then announced that preference will be given to skilled labour and professionals and they will be provided temporary employment.
Ahmad Zahid's Deputy, Datuk Nur Jazlan, also said that details on how to accommodate the refugees has not been finalised.
Earlier, Riot delivered the keynote address at the 7th Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue for Growth, Employment, and Sound Industrial Relations in the Services Sector in ASEAN.
During his speech, he announced the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of the year to encourage free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and capital flow.
Richard also said Malaysia, like the rest of ASEAN, is facing a shortage of skilled workers and will need to recruit more foreign labour if the issue is not addressed.
Additionally, Richard said Malaysia is currently reviewing its minimum wage, but later told reporters the government's decision is currently on embargo and will be announced in due time.
He said the government is currently studying the feasibility of an Employment Insurance System (EIS) to provide financial and training assistance for retrenched workers.