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Cost of Indonesian and Filipino maids goes up, sparking demand for Myanmar maids

Published on Jun 29, 2013 8:45 AM
Indonesian maids at a training centre in Solo, Indonesia. Agents in Singapore say Indonesian recruiters have been asking for an extra $700 to $1,000 as commission, because with Ramadan coming up next month, it is harder to entice the women to leave their homes and come here. -- ST FILE PHOTO

A recent hike in the cost of recruiting Indonesian and Filipino maids has sparked fresh demand for Myanmar helpers who are cheaper to hire.

Indonesian recruiters have been asking for an extra $700 to $1,000 as commission since earlier this month, said agents here. It bumps up the total fee to almost $4,000.

The reason given is that it is hard to entice the women to leave home with Ramadan coming up next month, as they usually prefer to be with their families during the festive season.

Several agencies here have refused to give in to these demands, slowing the supply of Indonesian maids by as much as 80 per cent in the last month.

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Background story


I tell my customers, if they do not want to pay more, then they will have to consider Myanmar maids.

- Nation Employment managing director Gary Chin

Different fees for different countries

  • Indonesia: Indonesian recruiters are asking for $700 to $1,000 extra as commission to source for a maid. They say it is difficult to get the women to come to Singapore now that Ramadan is approaching.

Employers have to pay close to $4,000 to hire an Indonesian maid, but they recoup most of the money through deductions of her salary.

  • The Philippines: Manila wants employers to bear more of the cost of recruiting its workers. Employers now have to pay about $2,500 for a Filipina maid.
  • Myanmar: Its women are barred from working overseas as maids or entertainers, but the government does not enforce this regulation strictly.

However, many women have problems adapting to life here as they speak little English, are untrained and underage. Employers pay about $4,300 to hire a Myanmar maid but they recoup about $3,300 by deducting her wages.

  • Cambodia: The first batch of 400 maids will arrive from August under a pilot scheme by the Ministry of Manpower to try out this new source of domestic workers.

Agents previously said the workers will come in July but The Straits Times understands that there has been a delay as they are ironing out details of the recruitment system with their Cambodian counterparts. The fees have not been decided yet.