MOM should create loan registry for maids

To expect them to make rational financial decisions when faced with personal emergencies at home is setting them up to fail.
To expect them to make rational financial decisions when faced with personal emergencies at home is setting them up to fail. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY

I completely disagree that foreign domestic workers (FDWs) do not need to seek employers' permission before taking loans (Maids may turn to loan sharks if they need boss' nod; Nov 20, 2018).

In the last six months, I have discovered that my maid and my mother's maid took out various loans from authorised moneylenders, as letters demanding payment were sent to our respective home addresses.

We have since terminated the services of my mother's maid but she continues to harass me and my maid, demanding that we help to pay off her loan.

FDWs live in our homes and are mostly relied on to care for our dependants.

The risk of harm coming to our loved ones is great.

Maids earn tiny salaries and mostly come from impoverished homes.

To expect them to make rational financial decisions when faced with personal emergencies at home is setting them up to fail.

The interest rates are crippling and it will be, for the long term, good for FDWs to be open with their employers in such situations and seek financial assistance or salary advances rather than to turn to moneylenders who are out to gain from vulnerable people.

I suggest that the Ministry of Manpower create a loan registry for employers to see the full list of loans that their maids may have taken out.

This would allow employers to monitor the situation before loans get out of hand and prevent a vicious circle of debt among people who are already struggling to break out of the poverty cycle.

Julia Chan Sook Yin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2019, with the headline 'MOM should create loan registry for maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe