Grading system for maid agencies can boost transparency

The decision to implement a grading system for maid agencies is a big step in ensuring that transparency and fair practice prevail ("Maid agencies to be graded by Case and MOM"; last Thursday).

From my personal experience with maid agencies, the following observations need to be addressed:

First, the maids considered for employment should be interviewed thoroughly, with focus on their educational and medical background.

Of the two maids placed in my home, one was illiterate and incapable of even telling time, while the other had a history of epileptic fits.

Second, one maid, who was only 18 years old when recruited, was told not to tell the truth about her age, under the threat of being repatriated. Eight months into her employment, she broke her silence.

I lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower but it was the agent's word against mine.

Such fraudulent practices must be stopped.

Third, the maids that I had employed complained that they were not properly briefed on the terms and conditions before being recruited.

It was only on arrival that they got a sketchy idea of what was expected of them, by which time it was too late, leaving them unhappy and disillusioned. This frustration is then taken out on the employer.

Fourth, how reliable is the bio-data which indicates that the maid is proficient in English, when it turns out that she has severe problems in understanding simple instructions in English?

This grading system will be useful for both employers and employees, and just as justice must be done for the maids, a similar standard of justice should also be there for employers.

Padmini Kesavapany (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Grading system for maid agencies can boost transparency'. Print Edition | Subscribe