Workers Accommodation at Centralized Labour Quarter (CLQ) – Voluntary Compliance Encouraged for Sustainable Business Operations
The recent episodes of the poor living conditions of foreign labours as well as forced labour allegations has led to Withholding of Release Order by US Customs & Border Protection which has prevented products by Malaysian rubber glove manufacturers, oil palm planters and recently Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) from entering into USA.
As these Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns has a direct impact on the bottom line of these manufacturers- the voluntary compliance to Purpose Built Workers Accommodation (PBWA) or Centralized Labour Quarters (CLQ) is one of the way forward. In fact, we have been approached by reputable manufacturing companies who care for their workers’ well being and intends to put their workers in proper accommodation. This has increased the demand for commercial and industrial land (light and medium) for sale nearby the major industrial park.
Quick Build Dormitories (QBD) using modular building system may be the alternative given the time constraints to comply. The Covid19 pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of PBWA to ensure safe and secure workers’ accommodation due to increased risks of transmissions in enclosed living environment. Lockdown of entire accommodation buildings caused significant disruptions to operations and financial losses to manufacturers.
Managed Industrial Park (MIP) has designated plots of land for developing workers’ accommodation within the Planned Industrial Park to cater for the labour quarters, parking zone for transport services of workers as well as recreation facility for workers. The local residents may shun labour quarters being set up nearby residential areas out of fear of health, security and safety as well as traffic congestion issues.
Workers Accommodation complying to the amended Act 446 requires Certificate for Accommodation application of which the prerequisite imposed by Local Authority may include Approval of Temporary Building Permit or Approval for Modification of Building or Approval to Change Condition / “Syarat” of the Building from commercial to hostel- which may pose a challenge.
The Guidelines to Workers Accommodation issued in April 2021 by Human Resources Ministry stipulates the Minimum Standard Requirements under amended Act 446
Minimum Standard Requirements Under 446
Floor Area for Bedroom
Dormitory : > 3.0 sqm
Non-Dormitory : > 3.6 sqm
Dormitory: 1 toilet : 15 employees
Non-Dormitory: 1 toilet : 6 employees
Non-Shared Basic Amenities
• Mattress with a minimum thickness of not less than 4 inches, a pillow and a blanket.
• A locked cupboard (minimum 0.35m x 0.35m x 0.9m)
• A single bed not less than 1.7 sqm and the space between the two beds of a double decker bed shall not be less than 0.7m
Common Shared Facilities
• Rest area, dining area, bedroom, kitchen area and laundry area
• Fan of each rest area, dining area and bedroom
• Lamp for each rest area, dining area, bedroom, kitchen area, bathroom and toilet
• First aid kit
The longer arm of the law would catch up with the employers who failed to comply with standards set in amended Act 446 which could face a maximum fine of RM 50,000 for each offence when the December 31st, 2021 deadline of leniency to comply ends.
As a transition to alleviate the shortage, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government has offered short term solution (from 2021 to 2023) where six alternative existing premises could be converted to dormitory usage which include existing residential areas, shophouses, business lots as well as construction sites while the long run solution of Centralized Labour Quarter (CLQ) remains the preferred choice to ensure provision of quality housing for workers.