Forum: Maid agencies abusing their powers

Maids who are undergoing training, seen seated inside a maid agency at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Ng Beng Choo makes a good point in his Forum letter (Agency charges same amount for new and transfer maids, Feb 20).

Indeed, why should anyone be charged by an agency as much to hire a transfer domestic worker as to hire one from abroad?

The cost of hiring locally does not include training, accommodation, transport and agency fees that would be incurred in hiring new workers in their countries of origin, and so should be much lower.

It is still common practice for employers to deduct the cost of the hire of a new domestic worker from her salary, and this also often happens with transfer workers.

When domestic workers face six to nine months of salary deductions, although Singapore caps what agencies here can charge them at two months maximum, it has been argued that the extra cost comes from country-of-origin charges.

Since those should not exist in the case of transfer workers, none of them should be facing salary deductions of more than two months. But many are.

This is unjust and shows that some agencies are misusing the power they have over domestic worker recruitment to deny employers, workers and the national economy the benefits that come from hiring transfer workers.

There is a similar trend in the employment of construction workers.

The Government has opened up the possibility of workers finding new employers while in Singapore, without having to go home and shoulder the burden of exorbitant recruitment costs.

But middlemen are interposing themselves in the recruitment process to make a handsome profit out of the employment of experienced migrant workers who are already in Singapore.

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) thinks that these practices need to be reined in and that the direct hire of workers by employers should be facilitated, including through easy-to-use online portals.

Deborah Desloge Fordyce

President

Transient Workers Count Too

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2020, with the headline Forum: Maid agencies abusing their powers. Subscribe