Officials of the Foreign Employment Bureau will get police powers under amendments to the Foreign Employment Bureau Act.
The amendments, to be presented in Parliament on Thursday, will also place restrictions on charges levied from job seekers while enabling police officers and officials of the bureau to arrest without warrant any persons committing offences under the Act.
FEB Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka said the new laws would enable the bureau to deal effectively with errant foreign job agents who charged exorbitant amounts from job seekers.
“So far we did not have legal powers to deal with errant job agents. Even when we had evidence of rackets, we had to let them go after recording their statements as we had no powers of arrest,” he said.
He said the FEB had evidence that about 150 job agencies were operating illegally but it did not have powers to take them to courts.
In terms of the amendments, payments charged by foreign job agencies would need prior approval by the FEB and receipts would have to be issued for amounts obtained from job seekers.
The new laws will also empower the FEB to check any and all documents of job agencies and also examine at airports documents of those going abroad.
The FEB chief said penalties for those violating the laws would also be increased.