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  • Elaine Sim

Can West Malaysian companies hire migrant workers in Sarawak?

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Those who live in Malaysia will know that Sarawak and Sabah have its own jurisdiction over certain matters, especially employment and immigration. West Malaysian companies can set up businesses in Sarawak, but must comply with the Labour Ordinance 1958 and the immigration requirements to hire "non-resident employees".

Non-resident employees encompasses non-Malaysians and Malaysians who are not Sarawakian. Additionally, the provision only applies to "employees" earning RM2500 and below. This means if you are hiring a non-Sarawakian manager or supervisor on a monthly salary of RM2500 or more, you can go straight to immigration to apply for a work permit without obtaining a labour quota from the Labour Department in Sarawak.

Setting up a factory or plantation in Sarawak?

If you are setting up a factory or plantation in Sarawak, you may need to hire migrant workers for general work. In Sarawak, Indonesian workers are prioritised because Indonesia is the only source country approved for the state. To hire non-Indonesian workers, your company will need to apply for special permission from the State Secretary's Office. All non-Sarawakians, whether Malaysian or non-Malaysian will require a work permit from the Sarawak Immigration Department to work.

Process of hiring "non-resident employees"

The process is as follow:-

Step 1

Register your company and interest to hire with your closest SOCSO office. Advertise the vacancies on the MYFuturejobs portal.

Step 2

Apply for an approval in principle for a labour quota at your nearest labour department.

Step 3

Apply for a 2 year license with the Labour Department for the approved quota.

Step 4

Apply with the Sarawak Immigration Department for work permits to legally employ non-resident employee candidates: whether you are hiring a migrant worker, West Malaysian or Sabahan.

Once you become an employer of a "non-resident employee" in Sarawak, you are responsible for the visa, accommodation, health and safety and general well-being of the non-resident employee. Ensure that you have proper accommodation that complies with the requirements of the Worker's Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act. You are also advised to purchase appropriate insurance for your workers, such as personal injury and hospitalisation coverage. Migrant workers registered under your company will remain the responsibility of the company until they leave Malaysia or Sarawak in accordance with the proper exit procedures, also known as a Check Out Memo.

Our website and its contents are provided for general information purposes only and nothing on this website or in its contents is intended to provide professional advice. Please contact us at or +6082-295175 for more information.

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