Archive for the ‘maid employment procedures’ Category

PostHeaderIcon “DIY” Maid? Finding a Maid on Your Own?

Since Uber and AirBnB, there are more and more disruptions in various industries. The maid industry isn’t spared as well.

I was told of certain websites helping employers find their own maids. I’ve my opinion on this and it is pretty UGLY!

I suppose it is a really good idea for employers to find their own maids - I will have less headache ;-) They can’t blame me if something goes wrong. They find their own maids, it has nothing to do with the agency! So, if anything goes wrong (which it will, according to Uncle Murphy), the employer has to solve her own problems. No agency will take on the case since the employer did not employ a helper through them in the first place.

But, let me back up a bit.

Employing a maid (I prefer the term “domestic helper” - as my respect for these great women who sacrifice for their families back home) is really not that simple. These websites really over-simplify things. And, in my opinion, over promise and under deliver. Most importantly, they will never tell you the potential problems you may have.

Firstly, any helper who are “unhappy” with their current employer can apply. It is just taking a selfie and uploading their personal details. To what extent does the website vet and check and interview the helper. None! So, how can the employers be sure the helpers are the real deal? Are they really that good in what they say they are?

Secondly, some of these websites tout themselves as “social enterprises” by saying that the helper does not have to pay any agency fee. So, they are doing social good. Think about it - if the helper did not pay any fee, do they have a vested interest to do well in their job? If it doesn’t work out, they lose nothing. Since they have nothing to lose, they may not be that committed. Think changing helpers again and again if you go this route.

Thirdly, the employers have to navigate and do the application by themselves. This is good if the employers are good with paperwork and are okay with all the hassle of it. They can save some money.

But, here is the part which makes them penny wise but pound foolish (in my opinion). When problems arise, no agency will help out in the case unless the employer is committed to getting a new helper through the agency. Think no more saving money!

Agencies are smart. They are in business for profits. Why would they take on a troublesome case for pennies? Worse, when it is not “their” helper. They would rather spend time on an “actual” customer. Not a “cheapo DIY” employer with a problematic helper. In all likelihood, in the agencies’ opinion, such an employer is really not worth the trouble. They will “happily” send such an employer her merry way to another agency ;-)

Of course, some readers may say I’m biased in my opinion. And, I am. However, if you really think through the few points that I’ve brought up - maybe you will reconsider your position.

Will “DIY” maid work out? Yes, it may. If the employer likes going through all the hassle of paperwork and finding the helper. And, the helper is genuine and sincere. Most importantly, the employer is “humane” as well. It’s been my experience that some employers expect the helper to take care of the baby, wash the clothes, cook, mop the floor, bring the older kid to school, “humour” Ah Ma, etc. I bet the Ma’am couldn’t do that either.

So, the starting may be good and well. But if the DIY employer is unreasonable in her demands, it is not going to work out ultimately. Doesn’t matter if it is DIY or not.

In my opinion, such disruptions in the maid industry is over-rated. There is really no real value created by such websites. Talk to the employers who have used such a site, and you’ll know the “real” pain they have faced.

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PostHeaderIcon Is it a good idea to recruit your own maid from the source country?

I got an interesting question from a reader. Here’s the specific comment:

Hi there,

I am sure you are aware of the blog “[removed by admin]”.

You would have noticed it is anti government policies and anti maid agencies. Comments by the blogger are one sided instead of being objective. Apparently she lacked indept knowledge of the maid industry. There is a section on employing maids without going through agencies. It appeared that the blogger had committed an offence by directly or indirectly engage in activities related to or connected with recruitment or helping in the recruitment process without a valid employment agency license from MOM. The blog also encouraged employers to DIY by getting maids directly from foreign supplying countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia without realizing there are strict rules in these countries to protect its citizens from human trafficking. Needless to say, that blog in non-creditable compared to your blog. What are your views?

Here are my thoughts. And, I think the above reader has a very good point, and it is very important that you give this a serious thought.

1. It is never a good idea to travel to the source country to recruit your own maid. Here’s why: you are not a licensed employment agency in the source country and it is illegal for you to recruit anybody under the countries’ human trafficking laws. Even if you are licensed in Singapore, it does not mean you can go recruiting anywhere you want. There was a recent sad case for one of our fellow agencies who got into trouble due to this. Don’t try this. You will definitely get yourself into a lot of trouble in the source country - be it the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, etc.

2. If you want to recruit someone from overseas that you know or was recommended to you by another helper, get an agency here to do a direct hire for you. Don’t do all the paperwork yourself. Here’s why: you may be able to get some piecemeal information from the Internet, but you’ll never know what is really happening on the ground. Your helper maybe held up at the airport due to certain important documents not transmitted, etc.

Secondly, if you do this too frequently, you may be deemed to be “acting” as an employment agency without a licence in Singapore. This is a grey area because the definition of an employment agency is really broad under the new framework. While I don’t think it would be an issue, why risk an investigation by MOM?

3. If you know an agency overseas, you may wish to try to get them to give you details of the helper so that you can make an application  here yourself. Again, just like in point 2, there may be hiccups you simply wouldn’t know unless you’re on the ground doing the work. Moreover, an agency would have resources to assist in the case if there are any issues in the application. Most importantly, DO NOT travel to the home country to shortlist the girls even if the licensed agency invited you over. You never know what the enforcement agencies over there will do.

4. If you’re getting an agency to do the work for you here in Singapore, make sure that your agency is duly licensed by MOM. Check the MOM EA Directory to make sure they are legal. MOM will penalize employers who use illegal agencies and it doesn’t matter that you say you’re being cheated by the agency. It is your responsibility to check.

It is not because that I work in the industry that I encourage readers not to do their own application. You can try, but be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

In my opinion, certain work is based left to the professionals. You wouldn’t want to do a surgery on anyone if you’re not a surgeon do you?

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