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Repository of Practices

Social Security Extended for Migrant Domestic Workers in Malaysia

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2018 - 2023

Type of practice

Policy (including law, public measure)

Geographic scope




In June 2021 the Minister of Human Resource announced the extension of social security for domestic workers, including migrant domestic workers. A year after this announcement, the government of Malaysia made it compulsory for all Malaysian employers to register their domestic workers into SOCSO (Social Security Organization). Under the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969 and Employment Insurance System Act 2017, domestic workers are entitled for Employment Injury Benefit, Invalidity Benefit and Employment Insurance Benefit. However, domestic workers who are migrants are excluded from the invalidity scheme and the employment insurance. With the new policy change, it is estimated that at least 95.000 documented migrant domestic workers under the official figures in Malaysia will enjoy partial SOCSO benefits.

The policy change is made possible due to active advocacy of migrant domestic workers organizations, The Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas (AMMPO) and the Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia Migran (PERTIMIG) who are affiliates of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of social protection. AMMPO, PERTIMIG, together with the IDWF and allied organizations like the trade unions, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Malaysia advocated for labor law reforms and demanded the government to recognize domestic workers under the Labor Law 1955. AMMPO, PERTIMIG and the IDWF drove on the advocacy momentum and organized online and offline dialogues and advocacy to lobby for the inclusion of social security for domestic workers including migrants domestic workers in Malaysia.

These initiatives that have led to the social security policy change and the implementation of social security included:

  • Social dialogues with the Ministry of Human Resource (MoHR), social security body (PERKESO), and respective embassies 
  • Meeting with social security body (PERKESO) to address the challenges on SOCSO registration and to strengthen a collaboration between migrant domestic workers association and PERKESO
  • Workshops for migrant domestic workers on understanding social security benefits and learning how to do registration into SOCSO
  • Public awareness campaign on the importance of registering migrant domestic workers into SOCSO


Main Implementing Organization(s)

Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas - AMMPO
Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia Migran - PERTIMIG
International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)

Detailed Information

Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas (AMMPO) Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia Migran (PERTIMIG)

Partner/Donor Organizations

International Labour Organization - ILO

Benefit and Impact

The extension of SOCSO for domestic workers will benefit migrant domestic workers regardless their nationalities to be protected from the Employment Injury Scheme under Act 4. The protection includes:
- Access to free medical treatment in Malaysia at SOCSO panel clinics or government clinics and hospitals.
- Entitlement for temporary and/or permanent disability benefits due to work injuries.
- Entitlement for constant attendance allowance of maximum MYR 500/month in case of work injuries that have led to permanent disability and need for a personal attendant as confirmed by the Medical Board.
- Access for funeral benefits with a maximum cost MYR 6.500 or actual amount to repatriate remains to home country and dependent benefit.

Key Lessons

Organizing migrant domestic workers in Malaysia is challenging as migrant domestic workers are not entitled to weekly day offs. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the mobility of migrant domestic workers due to lengthened working hours and movement restrictions. In addition, the Trade Union Act 1959 in Malaysia restricts migrant domestic workers rights to register their own union and this has limited voices and representation of migrant domestic workers.

Despite these challenges, AMMPO and PERTIMIG have been building dialogues with the government of Malaysia ,with the Ministry of Human Resource (MOHR) and Social Security Body (PERKESO). The openness of MoHR and PERKESO in dialogues with migrant domestic workers have constructed the mutual understanding on the importance of social security for migrant domestic workers. AMMPO and PERTIMIG leaders and members' ongoing engagement with the dialogues with MoHR and PERKESO at the same time increased the awareness of the importance of their rights of social protection. Migrant domestic workers are also more aware of gaining knowledge and access to rights through joining their organizations.

The extension of social security for migrant domestic workers has stepped up the policy recognition of migrant domestic workers.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

By organizing migrant domestic workers in Malaysia, AMMPO and PERTIMIG learnt strategies and best practices from one another in advocating domestic workers’ rights in Malaysia. Both AMMPO and PERTIMIG enhanced their advocacy strategies by building the capacity of their members and leaders. Both associations mobilised domestic workers and emphasized the importance of social security for all migrant workers, including migrant domestic workers. They conducted several trainings, including leadership skills, campaign strategies, labour law and public speaking with the support of International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF). These key trainings have sharpened the knowledge and skills of MDWs leaders in the advocacy of their rights for social protection.

A collective voice formed by migrant domestic workers has made progress and increased the opportunity for social dialogue with the government such as the Social Security Organization (SOCSO) and the Ministry of Human Resources. AMMPO and PERTIMIG have led the advocacy on domestic workers to ensure their voices are heard. More than five social dialogues with the government, stakeholders and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been organised to advocate the inclusion of social security for migrant domestic workers. As part of advocacy efforts, AMMPO and PERTIMIG also work closely with different groups such as labour law reform coalition (LLRC), Kearah189, Our Journey, trade union and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to ensure social security for migrant domestic workers. Also, they have engaged with Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) at the regional level to advocate the issues of migrant domestic workers, social protections, law and policies. This strong organisation of domestic workers supported by intersectional collaborations and media (BFM,DAWN) has led to the success of the social security advocacy with an extended coverage for migrant domestic workers. In addition, the receptiveness of the Malaysian government toward migrant domestic worker groups is another contributing factor to this successful advocacy.


Several aspects of advocacies by PERTIMIG and AMMPO have been adaptive and innovative. One of their innovations is strengthening the advocacy through social dialogue with the government of Malaysia. Despite the challenge that Trade Union Act 1959 restricts migrant domestic workers to register for union, social dialogue has become a platform for migrant domestic workers to make a demand to the government for inclusive social security for all migrant domestic workers. AMMPO and PERTIMIG have collaborated with the Social Security Body (SOCSO) to ensure that all migrant domestic workers receive basic information on social security and register themselves. Furthermore, AMMPO and PERTIMIG have been proactive in identifying issues affecting migrant domestic workers, such as no information on mandatory SOCSO registration, or inability to register for SOCSO and administration issues in claiming for benefits. Despite the exclusion from several benefits under the Labor Law 1955, the extension of social security for migrant domestic workers in Malaysia, as one of the destination countries in Southeast Asia, has refined the policy recognition of migrant domestic workers.

The practice also has particular aspects making it gender responsive: In June 2023, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a report "Skill to care, forced to work? Recognizing the skills profiles of migrant domestic workers in ASEAN" highlighting the fact that 29% of migrant domestic workers In Malaysia have experienced forced-labour conditions. Migrant domestic workers in Malaysia are working in a precarious employment with a lack of legal protection. In response to this challenge, PERTIMIG and AMMPO were formed with the aim to organise migrant domestic workers in Malaysia. Both associations represent the voice of woman migrant domestic workers, one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. In 2019, PERTIMIG and AMMPO led by woman migrant domestic workers started to lobby the Malaysian government for the amendment of Labor Law Reform and to demand for social security protection for migrant domestic workers. By uniting the collective voice of woman migrant domestic workers, their advocacy's focus was to ensure that all woman migrant domestic workers are protected by social security in the destination country.

Date submitted:

17 May 2024

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).