2015 may usher in a tighter language proficiency requirement for expatriates working in Indonesia. The requirement of the ability to communicate in Bahasa Indonesia is not new, but now there may be an enhanced standard requiring a sufficient knowledge of the language to satisfy a standard to be proscribed by the Minister of Education. We had a chance to catch up with Legal Consultants of SSEK’s Labor and Employment practice regarding updates on this issue, and here is what they had to say.
Conventus Law: Will this new language requirement likely result in a language test similar to a TOEPEL exam that applicants must take and pass in order to secure a work visa?
SSEK: First, it is important to know that the implementation of the language proficiency test would be regulated in an amendment of Minister of Manpower Regulation No. 12 of 2013 regarding Procedures for Employing Foreign Workers (MOM Reg 12). While Indonesia’s Manpower Minister, Hanif Dhakiri, had forecast that this amendment would be done by February 2015, it is still being discussed within the ministry and among other involved parties, such as the House of Representatives, labor unions and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. So it is impossible at this point to say how, or even if, this proposed language proficiency requirement will be implemented.
There has been, however, discussion between the Directorate General of Manpower Placement Development (DGMPD), part of the Ministry of Manpower, and the Language Development Institute of the University of Indonesia about the content and method for giving such a proposed test. And the Manpower Minister on at least one public occasion1 and an official from the DGMP have said that the language proficiency test would be required to secure a work visa, known as an IMTA.
CL: Will this new standard be applied retroactively to currently employed expatriates?
SSEK: Details on how this language proficiency requirement might be implemented have not been revealed, so it is impossible to know whether this requirement would be applicable to currently employed expatriates holding an IMTA.
CL: While this regulation presents a stricter standard, is there any real penalty to the employer or employee for failing to adhere to this new requirement?
SSEK: If passing a language proficiency test were to be made a requirement for securing an IMTA, the possible sanction would likely relate to the granting of the IMTA itself. So, failing to pass the language proficiency test could result in the non-granting of an IMTA or even the revocation of an existing IMTA, depending on how such a requirement might eventually be implemented.