Law to stop safekeeping of maids' money is needed

I disagree with Mr Tay Yong Hung. The new work permit condition to prohibit employers from safekeeping money belonging to their maids is necessary (Allow agreement to be signed if maids ask employers to keep salaries; Oct 13).

If the law were in place earlier, it would have saved 600 unfortunate foreign domestic workers (FDWs) from agony as employers would have a fiduciary duty to pay them on time so they can remit the money back home.

Over the past few decades, I have not encountered maids asking me to safekeep their salary. Instead, they have wanted to borrow money or have asked for an advance on their salary for urgent needs.

I cannot imagine why maids would want their employers to safekeep their hard earned money here when they had spent a fortune paying agent fees to work here.

Signing any elaborate agreement with maids for the safekeeping of their money would become nothing more than a useless promissory note if employers have no money to pay.

When the prohibition kicks in from Jan 1 to protect employers and FDWs, the concerns raised by Mr Tay would disappear.

Given the law, in the event of an employer going into a coma or dying, the maid's salary would be protected.

Financial literacy classes will not be necessary when employers are not allowed to safekeep their maid's salary.

If errant employers breach the laws, the court is the right place to deal with and punish them using prescribed penalties and jail terms.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Law to stop safekeeping of maids' money is needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe