We refer to the letters to the Forum (Agency charges same amount for new and transfer maids, Feb 20; and Maid agencies abusing their powers, Feb 24).
An employment agency charges a service fee to its client for services rendered.
Regardless of whether a foreign domestic worker (FDW) is arriving from the source country or is being transferred from one employer to another locally, an agency provides the services to an employer.
It would be wrong to assume that once the FDW is here in Singapore that the cost of the services rendered is any lower then when she arrives from source.
As for the placement fee that is charged to an FDW, it is not a penalty. The FDW is also a client of the employment agency.
The agency is responsible for serving the FDW and providing assistance to her, for which the agency is permitted to charge the FDW a fee of up to a maximum of two months of her salary.
However, there may be instances where the FDW who is transferred to an employer locally has to take a loan of more than two months of salary from her employer.
This is because the FDW may have incurred other costs in her home country when she first came to Singapore to work, for which the FDW has yet to pay off fully.
As a result, she will require a salary advance from her new employer to pay for the remaining costs.
It is the prerogative of an employment agency to set a value to their service, and the potential employer and FDW have the liberty to go to another employment agency that meets their requirements.
Association of Employment Agencies