Archive for the ‘singapore maid’ 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 My Answers to Some Questions

Sorry for the late reply.

Question: Is there any concession for working mother.i am working now.
Answer: The maid levy concession does not specifically cater to working mothers. You can read more here: http://www.singapore-maid.com/singapore-maid-levy

Question: Hi i want to take a maid to look after my kids.we are pr. How much is the levy and how much salary need to pay for maid.  i’m PR single mother.. n my daughter also PR (8years old), am i entitle for $60 levy thanks

Answer: The maid levy would be $265/mth. Only young children who are citizens below 16 years old would qualify.
You can read more here: http://www.singapore-maid.com/singapore-maid-levy

Question:

Hi I am interested in employing a new maid to replace my present one who is going back to get married. However, I have had bad experiences with some agencies before regarding replacement. The present maid’s agencies has also changed some policies and will not guarantee replacement now.

After reading about your agency’s policies in the blog, could you please let me know which agency u are from so that I could get a maid from you.

Your early reply appreciated as my maid will be leaving end of June. Thank you

Answer: I’m sorry. This blog is not for soliciting business. It is just an interest blog for me. You can try the casetrust website for accredited maid agencies.

Thank you.

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PostHeaderIcon Ask Your Questions Here

If you’ve any questions for me, please click on some of the tags to the right-hand side or check out some of the posts for the answers or take a look at “Answers to Your Questions” just under the green banner to your right. Please bear in mind that rules and regulations do change, and anything pertaining to figures/numbers may be outdated by the time you read the posts, but “common sense” information should always be relevant.

If you cannot find the answers, you can click on Comments below and write your questions. Please do not include your personal details like full name, address, NRIC, etc. This is to protect your privacy.

While I cannot guarantee I will be able to reply on a timely basis, I will gather the questions and post the replies in the blog in time to come. I hope you appreciate that I’m doing this as a little contribution to society. Please do not blame me or call me names if I didn’t reply in time. Just like you, I’m also busy, busy. Another disclaimer is that I write what I think is the correct answer, I cannot be responsible for any outcome when you act upon my advice. As always, please seek professional advice before you act or don’t act.

Thank you.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid Agencies with a Good Heart

I have collated some comments/queries/case studies from readers and put them into a common thread below. And, I also like the title of this post. ;-)

Comment #1:

Possible to advise where can i find an maid agency that at least has some heart. I am so scare to get a maid from an agency due to some incident which I don’t want to explain since its over.

My current maid wanted to go home and after talking to her for months, she still insist on going back and I have agree as I want her to be happy. She is a nice gal and is working well with my kiddo so letting her go is a really sad thing at my end but is her choice and I want to respect her.

I have visited at least 15 maid agency and so far non really is good as they didn’t even bother to know what I want or need and just give me a stacj of BIO-Data to choose from. Some just encourage me to get a transfer which I told them I am not comfortable but still push. [named removed by admin]

My Reply to Comment #1:

I think it is really difficult to know whether a maid agency has a good heart or not. It is like trying to judge a book by its cover - we just wouldn’t know until we take a look inside. However, there are some ways which you can protect yourself from “bad people”.

1. Ensure that the agency really makes an effort to find out what are your wants. If they throw a stack of bio-data at you and ask you to search for yourself, you know they are not interested in helping you. They just want to see “by luck” whether you can find someone you want.

A responsible agency will have a least a short questionaire to ask you some important questions so that they can help you shortlist relevant candidates. The fact is they should work for their money, and not ask you to simply search the bio-data yourself. If they don’t have any relevant candidates, they should tell you the truth and ask you to try another agency as well.

2. Employing a transfer maid is not necessarily a bad thing. The first thing you should ask for is the Employment History of the maid they are recommending to you. The agency should be able to get that from the MOM database. If they say, they can’t, you know that they are lying. It is also a contravention of MOM rules. Stay away from them.

3. Before you sign on anything. Anything. Read and make sure you understand what you ‘re signing. Ask about guarantees, refunds, procedures if things don’t work out, etc. Write them down in your own words. Write down the date and time and with whom you talked to. This is to prevent misrepresentation by the agency personnel. Note down the EA Personnel Number for reference.

4. Another thing you may wish to note is whether the agency has many good testimonials from consumers. I think this is very rare in the industry. You should be in good hands, if they do.

5. Try maid agencies accredited by the Consumers Association of Singapore. If they “play cheat”, at least you can go to CASE to get back your money because they are under the purview of CASE.

Comment #2:

I really hope some one can recommend me where to find an agency which at least work with ethic and not just $$$$. Please help.

My Reply to Comment #2:

While I can’t vouch for other agencies, at least my boss is ethical and he is never totally about $$$. So boss, if you’re reading, remember my pay rise ;-)  I never tell him about this blog anyway.

On a more serious note, take a look at my reply to comment #1. Maybe another point is whether the people working in the agency look happy to you. If the boss is a nice guy or gal, the staff should be generally happy. My thought is that a “rotten” boss wouldn’t have any happy staff.

Comments #3:

Hi,

I have a 2 two month old baby and I’m a working mum.

Will appreciate greatly if you can email me a list of accredited maid agencies.

Thank you in advance for your effort.

[name removed by admin]

My Reply to Comment #3:

Click here and choose CaseTrust for Employment Agencies. There are only 19 accredited agencies in the list. Please note that accreditation is no longer compulsory but these agencies choose to hold themselves to a higher standard. So, kudos to them.

Comments #4:

hi, i am looking for FDW to take of my 2 yr old baby. like to get yr feedback on this employment agency [name removed] is good. also which agency r u from? maybe can help us in the hiring.

My Reply to Comment #4:

Take a look at my replies above. Sorry, I don’t promote any agencies here, including my boss’.

A reader asked about using new maid agencies and non CASE accredited agencies. I suppose using non-CASE agencies are okay. As for new maid agencies - wait for them to have some track record first before using them. But then again, if you don’t use them, where are they getting a track record? Sigh… Just something for you to think about.


Comments #5:

Hi. I have a few queries.

Firstly, would you let me know which agency you worked for?

2.Recently, I engaged the services of one agency. They charged a fee to ‘insure’ the placement fees which is the maid’s loan right? then my maid started having some problem and went away. So they proceed to get me a replacement maid. When I said I paid the fees, so the replacement should have been free, they said yes but I still need to pay the medical fees and the MOM fees, which end up amounting up to thousand plus. Is that the norm?

3. As usual, I gave instructions not to let the previous maid meet up with the replacement. However, I found out that they even spent a night together in the hostel and she badmouth us to the replacement maid.

4. end up the maid wanted out within a month. By right, can I just terminate and get the remaining of the maid’s loan back?

5. When the previous maid left, she went to the agency to look for another employer to be a transfer maid. the agency refused to terminate her work permit under our name. and even after our maid arrive, they send the maid to us but did not apply for work permit as the other maid had not found employment. Is that right? they dragged until 2-3 weeks after she already started work before proceeding? Is that the usual practice?

6. Does all agencies side the maids?

My Reply to Comment#5:

1. Sorry, I don’t intend to promote any agencies here.
2. There are many “types” of fees to employing a domestic helper from the source country. There is the agency fee being paid to the agency. There is the maid’s loan or placement fee or overseas center payment (whatever terms they use) which is a payment made to the overseas supplier. There are other fees paid for medical, MOM e-issuance, runner, embassy, etc.
In your case of thousand plus payment, it would seem like a “top up” on the maid’s loan for the next maid. The free part is that you don’t have to pay the agency fee again. But, you would still have to pay for the insurance, MOM e-issuance, medical etc because it is for the replacement maid. So, the amount seems in line depending on how long the existing helper has been with you. The thousand plus should be a “top up” on the number of months she was with you. Assuming a $450/month pay, she may have been with you for 3 months?
3. It is indeed a bad idea for the old maid to meet the new maid. People being people, they will definitely gossip. And gossip is never a good thing! It is very unlikely that the 2 maids won’t meet if you they belong to the same agency. What you could have done is to either have the first maid transferred first (and live without a maid for a short period of time before having the second maid) OR house the first maid in another location when the second maid is coming in.
4. Generally, you should be able to get back part of the maid’s loan. But, you would have to check the contract with the agency whether that is allowed or the conditions for that to happen.
5. That would seem to be the usual practice. The employer would have 2 maids under her name during this short transition period. Again, check your contract with the agency. Generally, you would have to give the first maid some time to transfer.
6. No, not all agencies side the maids. At the end of the day, agencies should be professional in their work. In other words, they should do what a professional should do, and that is to act in the interest of both the employers and the maids and abide by the law and MOM regulations.
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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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PostHeaderIcon Singapore-Maid.com, should I shut it down?

You know, life in Singapore isn’t easy. I think, it’s not easy for any trade, for that matter. Just look at all the new laws that came up or are coming up. A ban on alcohol consumption after 10:30pm? Hmm…

I didn’t update this blog for a long, long, long time. Sorry. Have no time - there are too many changes in the industry - just keeping up with it is a full time job. Let alone this hobby blog of mine.

However, I was surprised at the number of comments and questions from fellow Singaporeans seeking advice and asking for help. Please accept my apologies for not being able to respond on a timely manner. I understand how stressful matters pertaining to domestic workers or helpers can be.

Ask me - I know it first hand in my work ;-) But, at the receiving end from employers.

I did think about shutting down this blog, but the comments and questions from my blog visitors had me thinking again.

While I cannot promise to help everyone, I thought it may be a good idea to do “case studies” on comments or questions from readers. I will remove sensitive information but retain the important parts of the case so that you, my readers will benefit from it. Just my little contribution to society.

So do feel free to post your comments or questions, and please do not blame me if I don’t respond on time - it’s really a hobby blog and I am really busy like you are.

However, I will try my best to post some case studies - hopefully, it will benefit you or readers who come across my blog later on.

Do click around or read a little bit here and there and I hope to have an answer to your question(s).

I will try to have some updates on the industry as well.

By the way, I think some links on the site are no longer valid. If you’re looking for maid agencies accredited for good business practice by the Consumers Association of Singapore, please click on this link… and choose CaseTrust for Employment Agencies.

There are only 19 of them. Many of the agencies have opted out because it is no longer a compulsory requirement. However, these 19 are willing to hold themselves up for “punishment” by CASE if they don’t perform. So, consider giving them a shot. Also, read my article on how to use the MOM EA Directory to find an agency with a good retention rate.

I will try to update the broken links or if you’re aware of any broken links, please comment here. It’ll help me, instead of me having to look for them.

Thank you for reading.

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PostHeaderIcon How to Find a Good Maid in Singapore and New EA Rules and Regulations

Due to the changes in Employment Agency Rules and Regulations with regard to maid agencies in Singapore, I’ve not been able to update the blog - too busy ensuring compliance to the changes. My apologies for not being able to reply to your comments and questions sooner. I’ve compiled many of your questions and answers under Singapore Maid Agencies Complaints, Advice, Levy, etc. Do take a look.

I’m going to write this article as if you’re looking for a maid. The MOM has provided more tools to aid employers in their search for the “perfect” maid or Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) as a result of the new EA rules and regulations.

A few things to note before we cover how to search for a good maid using the MOM EA Directory. A disclaimer: using the tools doesn’t mean you’ll definitely find the “perfect” maid. It just makes your chance a little better. It is also not a recommendation for any agency.

With that, do note that the MOM has restricted the fee the maid has to pay the agency to 2 months for 2 years of service to the employer. Also note that the Indonesian Embassy has enforced a minimum pay of S$450/month and 4 days off/month and the Philippines Embassy has enforced a minimum pay of USD400/month and 4 days off/month. However, with effect from 1 January 2013, all new maids contracted shall be given 4 days off in accordance to MOM rules, and any day-off cancelled shall be compensated at monthly salary/26 days x days-off cancelled or replaced with a rest day in the same month. The MOM did not dictate any minimum monthly salary.

What does all this mean to you, the employer? It means you will have to bear the “maid’s loan”. You can no longer deduct the salary against the maid’s loan like in the past. The difference shall be paid to the agency as the agent’s fee and it is in the range of $1,300 - $1,600 or more, depending on the agency. The rest will be covered by the maid paying 2 months’ salary to the agency.

In addition, you will have to deal with your maid (actually, I prefer the term “helper”, and I shall use helper from here onwards) going on days off. If you cancel the day off, you will either have to compensate the girl at monthly salary/26 calendar days x number of days-off cancelled or give her a replacement day-off in the month in which the day-off was cancelled. Failing to do so will subject you to a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum jail term of 6 months. This is serious. You must comply.

While MOM does not dictate the minimum wage of the girls, the embassies of the girls’ home countries have done so. Do you, as the employer, have to comply with that? The answer is preferably. This is because the embassies of Indonesia and the Philippines are enforcing their rules and they are blacklisting maid agencies and employers who do not comply with them. If you need the help of helpers from these countries, you are better off complying with their rules. This is especially so if you are getting new helpers from these countries.

Moreover, under the new regulations, there is no need for maid agencies to be accredited. They will come directly under the purview of the Commissioner of EA. In my opinion, going to agencies which remain accredited to the Consumers Association of Singapore is a “safer bet” because you can still complain to CASE if you have an issue with the agency.

Given the above, you have more to lose if you do not find a good helper in the first round. With this in mind, the MOM has come up with a EA Directory where all licensed agencies are listed. As a side note, anyone going to an unlicensed agency is also liable to a fine and jail term. So, before going to any agency, it is always a good idea to check whether they are listed in the MOM EA Directory.

Click here to visit the MOM EA Directory (opens in new window). Now, we are going to use the MOM EA Directory to search for a “good” maid agency and hopefully, end up with a “good” maid.

1. Name of Employment Agency - leave blank (we are trying to search all agencies which fit certain criteria)

2. Employment Agency Licence Number - leave blank (we are trying to search all agencies which fit certain criteria)

3. Type of workers that EA places - click on Foreign domestic workers (FDW) because we are searching for maid agencies

4. Select district(s) - put a tick in all the boxes (again, we are searching all agencies based on certain criteria)

5. Advanced Search - click on Show (this is where we click on the criteria we want)

Advanced Search

We are using the following criteria because if you choose a few very restrictive criteria, you will either not have a single agency or enough agencies to choose from. I will explain why we choose certain figures.

1. Years since licence was issued - click on >5 years. If an agency can survive more than 5 years, they should be doing something right. Again, we are trying not to be too restrictive or your choices will be greatly reduced.

2. FDW Placement Volume - click on > 200. FDW Placement Volume is a moving 12 months average of the number of FDWs placed out by the agency. Any agency with > 200 placements is considered “major” by the MOM and has to place a higher security deposit with the MOM. This ensures that the agency is “serious” about their work. Again, if you choose too high a figure, it will greatly restrict your choices. You can try and see what you get.

3. Show only EAs with no demerit points - click on Yes. Needless to say, you only want agencies with no demerit points. These agencies are complying with MOM regulations.

4. FDW Retention success rate - click on >50. This is by far the most important criterion. But, you will have to read it together with #2 FDW Placement Volume. FDW Retention success rate means the percentage of helpers who remained employed with the same employer for 12 months or more. If an agency has a 50% retention rate, every 1 in 2 helpers is likely to work with the employer for 12 months or more. Again, a greater than 50% retention rate is actually quite outstanding in the industry. But, the placement volume has to be big enough to be significant. >200 would be a good measure to start off with since MOM deems that as a a criterion for an agency to place a higher security deposit.

5. FDW Transfer rate - click on 0-10. FDW Transfer rate refers to the percentage of helpers which the agency has placed out for 3 times or more. In other words, the same helper was transferred from 1 employer to another for 3 times or more. Basically, it may be an indication of whether the agency is trying to “bank roll” the maid and multiply out their profits on the same maid on different employers. Ideally, it should be zero (but less than 1 or even 2 is fine, so that you have more choices) because a “bad” helper shouldn’t be passed around from 1 employer to another just to multiply profits. But, then again, it may not be the girl’s fault. We don’t know for sure. You can read more about this maid agency scam (opens in new window) - scroll down to read 3. Customer multiplier effect to save yourself from this problem.

Then, click <Submit>. On the results page, click on View max 50 records per page. This will show all the agencies meeting the above criteria in 1 page. From here, you may wish to Google the agency’s name and do further research on them. See whether they have testimonials, etc. It would be a good idea to visit 3-5 agencies so that you can make a comparison about their people and their service.

Please note that you can “play around” with the above criteria and see what you can get out of it. But, I think the above criteria should be pretty useful to start off with.

In my opinion, it is also a good idea to do 1 more step. And, that is to see if they are accredited by the Consumers Association of Singapore for Good Business Practice. At least, if things don’t work out, you can complain about them to CASE. CASE has a mediation centre which will help you recover your money from the errant agencies, especially if they are accredited by CASE. Most agencies will return the money if they are CASE accredited because they wouldn’t want to lose their accreditation and reputation.

Click here to see CASE accredited maid agencies (new window opens). Then at Accreditation Type, click on CaseTrust for Employment Agencies.

By doing the above, it means that you are looking at maid agencies that have met the above criteria. It doesn’t mean that your helper will work out for you. Your chance will probably be better. And if your agency is CASE accredited, you are better protected should things turn sour.

So that you have more choices, be aware that not all agencies will have new Indonesian or new Filipino helpers. Some agencies may cater to the Indian market or Expat market or Malay market. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. You may be surprised by the result. If they are good in that market, they are probably good for any market.

Also note that some agencies may only have transfer maids. These are experienced helpers who are already in Singapore looking to change employer and many have completed their initial contract. As far as I know, these transfer maids DO NOT incur the $1,300 to $1,600 agency fee as the new maids do. The agency fee should be about $500-$800, depending on agency. Hence, you can save a significant amount of money by employing transfer maids instead of new maids. You can click on Transfer Maids (new window opens) to read more about them and see if they are suitable for your family.

With this, I hope you can find the good helper that you need. Thank you for reading.

You may also wish to read Singapore Maid Agency Recommendations for more information.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid in Singapore - the Industry…

Found this video on youtube which I thought would be very useful for employers, maids or anyone who is interested to know more about the maid industry. While the video was filmed some time ago, I feel that it is still very relevant today.

Click here to see the video on youtube…

Disclaimer: This is NOT a recommendation for the agencies mentioned in the video. You use them at your own discretion.

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PostHeaderIcon Maid Abuse? Employer Abuse? Agency Abuse? in Singapore

Singapore maid abuse? Employer abuse? Agency abuse? Thought this would make an interesting topic since I finally have some time to write (it’s school holiday for the kids finally!)

Singapore Maid Abuse?

Most of us read about the typical maid abuse cases in the newspapers. The maid may be punched in the face or scorched with boiling water, but have you ever wondered about the unreported cases? While these are not physical abuse per se, they do affect the girls’ well-being to a certain extent.

Just recently, the Philippines has tightened the “release” of girls to work as maids in other countries. From my discussions with the girls and people in the industry, many employers have picked up on this and directly or indirectly “threatened” the girl to send them back if they do not improve on their work or if they did something wrong.

Some girls who were unhappy about their current jobs were also afraid to seek work with new employers for fear of “revenge” by the employers for not staying with them.

While the MOM has regulations about verbal abuse, this kind of “mental” abuse is too “intangible”. As such, quite a number of girls were distressed by the situation but were quite helpless to do anything about it.

Is this maid abuse of some form? All we can do is to appeal to the employers to think about the girl’s family back home waiting for her remittance to feed them. They are as human as we are, so shouldn’t they be given a second chance?

Employer Abuse?

Some cases I remember were: (1) a maid breaking her employer’s baby’s arm or leg; (2) a maid murdering an old lady, and (3) a maid putting bleach into the contact lens solution of her employer. I must add that these are not just abuse, they are criminal acts against the employers!

While these are rare cases, there is always a possibility that it may happen to anyone. This is especially the case if one is extremely temperamental and behaves in an aggressive manner towards the girl. Remember, they are foreign domestic workers, not slaves! They deserve respect too.

Let’s look at it this way… most of the maids do not know anyone here. Most agencies would advise them to do their best and finish their contracts. But, sometimes, something happens that just makes the girl snap. To some of them, the anger of being bullied and the thought of revenge got the better of them, and they chose to do what they did.

As such, I feel that employers should keep one eye closed to certain matters and not “push it”. You really wouldn’t know what is the limit of each maid, and you definitely do not want to find out. It is a balancing act, no doubt, but a necessity, especially if you leave your young children in the girl’s care while the family is out to work.

Agency Abuse?

Sometimes, I feel that the maid agencies in Singapore have the toughest role to play. We are highly regulated by the MOM and at the same time, many employers are “perfectionists” who wants all the maids to work out perfectly - a little bit of problem, they will complain first.

Moreover, some employers really look down on people working in maid agencies, as if we are some form of low life. In actual fact, we are providing a much needed service to the community. How else can many Singaporeans go to work when there is no helper at home to help out with taking care of the children and household chores?

There is a Chinese saying that there is no “cheap” or “expensive” job, but whether you do a good job.

I venture to say that many maid agencies in Singapore are probably doing their best to serve the community. However, people have to understand that many of our foreign domestic workers are new to you and Singapore, and they may not know your way of doing things. As such, please do not “abuse” the agencies if things do not work out your way.

All in all, I feel that all three parties - the maid, the employer and the agency really have to put in an effort to make the stay of the maid in Singapore pleasant while making sure that the employers’ needs are met. As for the agency, I am thankful if a day goes by without complaints from the employers…

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PostHeaderIcon Maid Insurance - Shocking Changes

With effect from 1 January 2010, the medical insurance coverage of domestic helpers, FDWs or maids will be increased to $15,000, instead of the usual $5,000 coverage.

Needless to say, the insurance premium would also increase to reflect the higher cost of insurance. Across the board, the general increase is in the region of $50 to $100.

This is pretty much in line with the reduction in government assistance for foreign workers in general in terms of medical expenses. At the same time, this also helps reduce the risk of employers of maids. Why do I say so?

In my line of work, I’ve come across some unfortunate cases whereby the employers had to bear substantial cost, in the region of $20,000 to $50,000 depending on what happened to the girl.

One case, in particular, was really unfortunate. A helper had severe stomach pain and was diagnosed with ****. (To protect the privacy of my clients, I will not be revealing any details and I may modify some of the facts. However, the key points and facts will remain as they are.)

But, what was shocking was that the girl had to undergo a major operation and she had to be hospitalised for a significant period of time. The medical bill was estimated to be in the region of $35,000.

To make matters worse, the illness was diagnosed to be a pre-existing medical condition. As such, it was not covered under the insurance plan.

As a side note, so that you understand why a pre-existing medical condition is generally excluded automatically - the rationale is that no insurer will take on anyone, for instance, with cancer. Nor, would anyone with cancer, declare that he has cancer because no insurer will take him up.

So as to reduce the general cost of insurance, the pre-existing medical condition exclusion is instituted across the board for practically all insurance types, including maid insurance. This is because, if the insurer knows that the incumbent has cancer, they will either increase the insurance premium significantly or not take on the case at all.

So, coming back to the case. Basically, my client had to bear all the medical cost of the maid since it is one of the MOM conditions of employment for the maid.

Needless to say, if the case wasn’t that of a pre-existing condition, there will be a coverage of $5,000 under the old insurance scheme. With the new scheme, the coverage will be $15,000.

At least, my client will be covered for $15,000 under the new scheme.

However, there are also insurance plans with higher coverage which she could have opted for under the new insurance plans which may well cover all her exposure to her maid being sick.

All in all, the new insurance scheme seeks to reduce the risk of employers of maids. However, it also increases the cost of employing a maid. Unfortunately, if the maid has a pre-existing medical condition, no amount of insurance can help.

Perhaps, to reduce their risk significantly, employers should consider having their maids undergo a full body checkup before employment and not the current partial checkup. Now, that may be something to think about if a few hundred dollars of expenses maybe able to prevent tens of thousands of dollars of heartache later on…

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