New $6,000 performance bond for Indonesian maids 'unnecessary': MOM

Domestic workers being trained in Jakarta. Since April 2018, employers hiring a new Indonesian maid in Singapore have been asked to purchase a performance bond guarantee. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Indonesian Embassy's move to impose a new performance bond of $6,000 on employers who hire Indonesian maids here is unnecessary, the Singapore Government said on Tuesday (May 8).

In a statement, the Ministry of Manpower said it has made it clear to the Indonesian Embassy and the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower that Singapore already has a comprehensive set of regulations to protect all foreign domestic workers.

The statement was issued after the Indonesian Embassy notified maid agencies here of the new performance bond, which took effect in April.

Since April, employers hiring a new Indonesian maid have been asked to purchase a performance bond guarantee from one of two insurers approved by the embassy, which requires a one-off $70 payment. They also have to sign a standard employment contract.

Employers will have to pay the full $6,000 only if they breach the terms of the employment contract issued by the embassy.

When they are renewing the passports of their current Indonesian maids or processing documents at the Indonesian Embassy, employers may also be asked to purchase this guarantee and sign a new employment contract.

The Philippines Embassy here has a similar bond that has been in place for more than two decades. Employers pay about $40 to an insurer if they go through a maid agency, in lieu of a $2,000 bond.

MOM said on Tuesday that this new performance bond imposed by Indonesia is not a requirement of the Singapore Government, and is separate from the $5,000 security bond which MOM requires all employers to purchase for every maid hired, regardless of which country they come from.

MOM also noted that the specific conditions under which the Indonesian Embassy may forfeit the performance bond are not clear.

"There also appears to be a lack of mediation and dispute resolution process available to employers before the performance bond is forfeited," the statement added.

When contacted, non-governmental group Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (Home), which does research and advocacy on domestic worker issues here, said the bond requirement by the Indonesian Embassy provided "additional protection" to maids. But "enforcement may be an issue, as embassies have limited investigation capacity," said Home's manager for casework and research Stephanie Chok.

As part of its efforts to raise awareness about the implications of the bond, MOM has also introduced a new requirement for employment agencies to explain the bond to prospective maid employers.

Agencies have to obtain written acknowledgement from the employers indicating that they understand the implications before purchasing the bond guarantee or signing the Indonesian Embassy's standard employment contract.

MOM will also be issuing letters to all existing employers of Indonesian maids to urge them to read and understand the terms and conditions, before purchasing the bond guarantee or signing the contract.

The letter notes, for example, that the Indonesian Embassy "does not need to show that you have done anything wrong to forfeit your bond".

It also says that if employers do not accept the terms of the employment contract or the bond guarantee, they can consider alternatives, such as hiring a maid from another country or employing part-time help.

The Straits Times has reached out to the Indonesian Embassy for comment.

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