Forum: Don't rush transfers of FDWs

Foreign domestic workers exit from Lucky Plaza, Mar 29, 2020.
Foreign domestic workers exit from Lucky Plaza, Mar 29, 2020.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

The Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) new rule easing transfer procedures for employers of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) fails to take into account the interests of the FDWs (Move towards letting domestic workers switch employers freely, by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, May 21).

It also creates perverse incentives for employment agencies to transfer FDWs to new employers as fast as possible or risk incurring the costs of their repatriation.

After an employer has requested that an agency transfer his or her FDW, the agency has 14 days to find a new employer.

In the meantime, the agency is responsible for all of the FDW's transition costs, including accommodation and medical insurance.

Any agency trying to maximise its profits would seek to minimise the time FDWs spend in its care by rushing the transfer, despite incompatibility.

It is in everyone's interest for employment transfers to be expedited - but only if all parties are given adequate time to match FDWs' skills, experience and interests to employers' needs and expectations.

We recommend the Government consider expanding the two-week transfer window to between four weeks and six weeks, and ensuring two-way matching.

The longer window will create additional costs for agencies, which the Government should subsidise to best meet its objective: protecting both employers' and FDWs' interests despite the pandemic's restrictions.

A. Preethi Devi

Project Executive

Association of Women for Action and Research

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'Don't rush transfers of FDWs'. Print Edition | Subscribe