Hiring maids direct? Be familiar with process

We thank Madam Lum Soo Peng for her letter and feedback (Less red tape please, MOM; Forum Online, July 14).

The application process for Madam Lum to employ a new foreign domestic worker was handled by her daughter, Madam Loke Chua Yean.

The application was cleared, and an in-principle approval letter was sent to Madam Lum. The letter spelt out what next steps needed to be done, including going online to activate the issuance of the foreign domestic worker's work permit within 14 days of the foreign domestic worker's arrival in Singapore.

The letter also reminded the employer-to-be that the steps had to be completed within the time given, or the in-principle approval would be withdrawn and the foreign domestic worker would have to leave.

Unfortunately, neither Madam Lum nor her daughter proceeded to activate the issuance of the work permit. As a result, the foreign domestic worker overstayed.

When Madam Loke approached the Ministry of Manpower for assistance, we helped her to expedite the process, and the work permit was issued within three days. She had to pay a fine because the foreign domestic worker had overstayed.

Employers who prefer to hire a foreign domestic worker directly are strongly advised to be familiar with the application process.

They can call the MOM if they encounter any difficulties. Alternatively, they can engage an employment agency to perform the transactions on their behalf.

We review our online services regularly and have redesigned and simplified the application and renewal processes to make it easier for employers to transact with us.

Last year, 26,000 foreign domestic worker employers like Madam Lum made a fresh application for a foreign domestic worker directly with us without engaging an employment agency. Of these, 99.8 per cent completed the transactions successfully.

The 33 cases that encountered difficulties were promptly assisted by our officers.

Madam Lum may be pleased to know that we have planned for and will be issuing SMS reminders to employers who have not completed the process before the deadline.

Penny Han (Mrs)

Divisional Director, Work Pass Division

Ministry of Manpower