YOUR VIEW: ‘Tighten loopholes around maids’ employment in Singapore’

Tighter regulation has to be set to protect the well-being of the employers, not only the domestic helpers.

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Hiring a maid is no longer a luxury in Singapore; it is a matter of necessity rather than choice.

Amid the high costs of living in Singapore, most families will require both parents to work.  Unless family support is available, it will definitely come down to the option of childcare/infant centre, local nanny or hire a live-in domestic helper.

The issue between domestic helpers and employers has been an ongoing matter for a long time now and the employment regulation set by the Manpower Ministry should protect both the employer as well as the helpers' interest. If it protects a party more than the other, problems will naturally arise.  Right now, it is a grey area for the regulation on domestic helpers.

It will make sense for the employment contract to be reinforced, that helpers will have to work for a period of two years before they can apply for a transfer or decide to leave the country.  Special cases should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

This will definitely help to filter out serious applicants from the rest. In this way the maid agency will have an easier time to bring in quality domestic helpers and customers will also feel that the money spent on hiring through a maid agency is worthwhile.  This arrangement will be a lot better than the proposal of standardizing the biodata template in which the employer has no way to verify the information given.

Employers are currently assuming full responsibility for the domestic workers and the ministry will only interfere if the matter has been escalated to the police or the domestic workers have filed a complaint or is illegally moonlighting. 

And what about the maid agency? They are collecting hefty agent fees from employers to bring in a maid and then earn again when the maid is transferred to another employer. The worst part is they always deceive and market an unsuitable maid to the employer.

So in the end, domestic helpers opt to transfer or leave the country without completing the existing contract.  And the employer will have to pay again for the loan amount, transfer fees, insurance, medical check-up and most importantly, waste time and effort to coordinate the transfer or change and re-training again.

Tighter regulation has to be set to protect the well-being of the employers, not only the domestic helpers.  There many loop holes in the current practices which are picked up by domestic workers who use it to their  advantage and sadly, there is nothing the maid agency can do about it. 

Since there will always be domestic helpers coming to Singapore to seek employment, this issue will always be around until some regulation can be imposed to resolve it.

Michelle Lin Meilian, 30
Assistant marketing manager

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