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2 Aug 2023

International Organization for Migration (Switzerland)

Assessment of Causes and Contributing Factors To Migrant Workers Becoming Undocumented In Malaysia

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...Ensuring that migrants are not left behind is essential to achieving the objectives of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).  This report aims to examine how documented migrant workers become undocumented during employment in Malaysia, with a specific focus on the manufacturing sector and on migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal. This research unpacks the intersecting issues and challenges faced by the undocumented migrant workers using a migrant-centred and gender-sensitive approach. Because of the timing of data collection, it also considers the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings aim to strengthen evidence of causes and contributing factors of migrant workers becoming undocumented, based on the challenges experienced by migrant workers in irregular situations, and to inform policy makers and businesses in adopting safer and fairer labour migration processes.

Data collection was conducted from March to August 2022, through in-depth Interviews with 40 undocumented migrant workers including eight women, from Bangladesh (14/40), Indonesia (7/40) and Nepal (19/40). In addition, 10 in-depth interviews with various key stakeholders, and two focus group discussions with undocumented migrant workers, were undertaken...

In summary, the issues and challenges relating to undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia are complex and interconnected, requiring the adoption of a whole-of-the-society approach to amend and reform labour migration policies. Stakeholders interviewed in this research agreed that there is room for improvement in promoting the protection of migrant workers’ rights and suggested the primary course of action is to streamline the recruitment process, legislate and ensure effective implementation and enforcement of protections, and ensure effective monitoring of unscrupulous recruitment agencies and employers. Pre-departure and post-arrival orientations must be made mandatory for all workers to know their rights and equip them with sufficient knowledge and information to make informed decisions and navigate life in a new country...