First batch of 400 maids from Cambodia due in July

First batch of 400 women will be part of pilot scheme to try out new source of domestic helpers

The first batch of maids from Cambodia could start working in households from July under a pilot scheme by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to try out this new source of domestic workers.

According to a report in The Phnom Penh Post last Friday, 400 Cambodian women will be part of the trial.

Before they come over, the maids will receive training for between two and three months, depending on their previous work experience, said maid agencies in Singapore.

Six agencies chosen by the ministry to take part in the scheme were briefed by MOM officers last Monday and told that Cambodian maids will have to be trained before they are deployed in Singapore.

Three agents told The Sunday Times after the briefing that the first batch of maids should have completed their training by July.

They said the maids, who speak little English and usually live in rural villages, will be taught simple English and about life in Singapore during the training to help them adapt to life here.

Industry players expect the salary, placement and agency fees for Cambodian maids to be similar to those for maids recruited from Indonesia, who make up the bulk of domestic workers here. Indonesian maids are paid $450 a month and come with a placement fee of about $2,200.

The fee is paid upfront by employers and recouped through salary deductions from their maids.

Agency fees for Indonesian maids paid by employers are between $1,200 and $1,600.

Nation Employment managing director Gary Chin said: "We want to ensure that the domestic workers are paying a reasonable amount of placement fee. So they start earning enough money soon to send to their families."

Though Cambodian maids are new to Singapore, Malaysia has employed them for nearly a decade.

In 2011, however, the Cambodian government issued a temporary ban on maids going to Malaysia following reports of abuse by employers there. An estimated 15,000 Cambodian domestic workers have returned home.

Inter-Mares Management Services owner Karl Tan said he aims to recruit Cambodian maids who have worked in Malaysia as they would be able to speak some English and Malay and have experience living in a city.

The six agencies selected for the pilot will travel to Cambodia next month on a trip organised by the Cambodian Embassy to meet agents and representatives of training centres there.

They are: A C Toh Enterprises, Inter-Mares Management Services, Nation Employment, Prestige Management Services, Skills & Resources Consultancy and Unique Employment Agency.

MOM informed them that they had been chosen for the pilot scheme two weeks ago.

Singapore has 209,600 domestic workers, most of whom are from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The National Population and Talent Division estimated last year that Singapore will need 300,000 maids by 2030 because of an expected rise in the number of households with young or elderly members, and where both spouses work.

ameltan@sph.com.sg