Malawi outlines labour export guidelines for agencies and individuals

Displeased by the rise of cases of abuse and exploitation of Malawians working abroad, particularly in the Middle East, government has produced guidelines to be followed by Private Employment Agencies (PrEA) and migrating individuals.

Principal Secretary for Labour and Manpower Development Mr.Patrick Kabambe (L)
Principal Secretary for Labour and Manpower Development Mr.Patrick Kabambe (L)

A statement signed by Secretary for the Ministry of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development, Patrick Kabambe says this has come following an increase in reported cases of abuse and exploitation by Malawians working abroad.

“Government has noted with great concern the increasing reported cases of abuse and exploitation of Malawians working abroad, particularly in the Middle East (or Gulf Region)”.

“It is even more disheartening to learn that most of those who find themselves in such unfortunate situation migrate after fulfilling all the requirements for the job offered as set by the prospective employer,” says Kabambe.

Some of the guidelines include that the PrEA must ensure that they provide details of their registration to the labour ministry after registering with the Registrar General, get details of the traceable location of their counterpart PrEA in the country of employment as well as those of the prospective employer.

In addition, the agencies have been asked to provide to the Ministry copies of the terms and conditions of employment supplied by prospective employers for vetting before migrants leave to take up employment.

“The PrEA must also provide a copy of the terms and conditions of employment to every successful candidate before departure as supplied by the prospective employer. The terms and conditions should be thoroughly explained to the successful candidates in order to enable them make informed decisions on whether to take up the offers or not.

“They must also update the Ministry at the end of every month on Malawians who have secured employment through the PrEA, providing all the necessary personal and employment details covering name, sex, age, next of kin together with contact details; village, Traditional Authority, district, educational and professional qualifications; type of employment and its duration, wages payable, location and contact details of the counterpart employment agency and employer in the country of employment, contact details of the migrant and any other information that the PrEA may find relevant,” explains Kabambe.

He further urges the PrEA to set pre-conditions for the supply of labour that the counterpart employment agency or prospective employer should be following which among them includes that the employer should not retain the passport and other identity documents, certificates and travel documents of the employee or restrict the employee’s movements in any way as well as providing a return air ticket to the employee upon the expiry or termination of the contract of employment.

“It must be emphasized here that failure to comply with the above guidelines may result in the cancellation of the registration granted to the local employment agency concerned.

“It should also be borne in mind that where a Malawian migrant worker suffers abuse or exploitation, the Malawian PrEA that facilitated the employment may be liable to prosecution under the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2015 if the case has elements of offences stipulated in that Act,” warns the Secretary.

Some guidelines for individuals migrating include that they must satisfy themselves that they have read and understood the terms and conditions under which they will be working, maintaining contact with the PrEA that facilitated their employment as well as securing contact and maintain communication with the Malawian mission in the country of employment.

“Individual migrants should also report immediately any abusive practices suffered to the contact point as advised by the Malawi mission responsible for the country of employment or to the competent authority in that country, as appropriate, if the employer does not take any corrective measures after the abuse is reported to him/her.

“Prospective employees are encouraged to consult legal experts or the Ministry when in doubt about the conditions of service that has been sent to them prior to departing the country to take up the position,” he says.

He therefore assured all Malawians that government is doing everything possible within its powers, including the use of diplomatic channels, to secure the return of all Malawians reportedly caught up in abusive work situations and that action towards strengthening the regulatory framework to avoid future occurrences of a similar nature is underway.

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