It was announced in 2019 that starting from October this year, employment agencies have to provide an option for a refund of at least 50 per cent of the service fee charged to employers should a maid's employment end within the first six months.
While this appears to be a measure to improve maid retention, the cost of recruiting a maid has gone up as a result.
Employment agencies have raised fees drastically compared with 2019; the fees can now be as high as $2,700. It seems to me that agencies have raised their fees to make up for the potential loss of earnings should a maid not be retained.
Recently, I employed a transfer maid from Myanmar. I paid an agency fee of $2,199, a processing fee of $350 and an experience fee of $300. I have been offered a free transfer for one year, but if I do change the maid in that one year, I will still have to pay a processing fee.
An employer has to fork out close to $3,000 to pay an employment agency in order to employ a maid. Also, the maid has to pay the agency one month's salary.
It appears that for every new maid who is employed, an employment agency reaps a large profit. Does the work done by an employment agency entitle it to such high fees?
It seems to me that agencies benefit the most from an increase in maid transfers; therefore, I do not have much faith in agencies playing their part to ensure a good employer-maid fit and maid retention.
I hope the Ministry of Manpower can introduce tougher measures and provide stricter guidelines that employment agencies have to adhere to. The measures should include capping agency fees and punishing agencies that fail to meet certain maid retention benchmarks by revoking their licences.
There are existing maid retention benchmarks for employment agencies, but it is clear that the penalties for failing to meet them are insufficient to ensure that they are adhered to.
Allen Ong Hun Chin