SINGAPORE - Employers who hire transfer maids should share the costs of the stay-home notice (SHN) and related Covid-19 tests, said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Wednesday (Sept 8).
If the change of employer occurs within 12 months, MOM recommends that the new employer share the costs of SHN and related Covid-19 tests incurred by the current employer for the maid's entry into Singapore.
MOM said the current employer should bear the costs proportionate to how long the maid worked for him within the 12 months.
For instance, if the change in employer comes after six months, the cost should be split in half between the current and new employers.
Maid agencies should also help current and prospective employers come to an agreement for the sharing of costs, the ministry added.
It listed three criteria for the sharing of costs.
First, the maid must have been transferred within 12 months after she completed her SHN.
Second, the current employer cannot ask for more than what he had paid for the costs of SHN and related Covid-19 tests.
Third, both the current and new employers must sign a written agreement on the costs shared.
Currently, employers who hire maids from overseas are required to bear the full cost.
But in cases where the employment contract is terminated prematurely, the employer would have incurred upfront SHN-related costs, said MOM.
A spokesman from the ministry told The Straits Times the guidelines are to encourage employers to transfer their maids instead of sending them back to their home countries.
This would address the current shortage of maids in Singapore due to the pandemic.
It is also expensive to hire maids from overseas now, as employers have to bear the cost of the maid's SHN.
Employers who hire transfer maids do not have to wait for them to complete their SHN, added the spokesman.
Ms Elizabeth Leong, director of the Universal Employment maid agency, said: "The cost-sharing might be an incentive for employers to allow helpers to transfer."
But she noted that employers would generally prefer to hire maids who have completed their contract, as they may have misgivings that those who did not serve out their contracts could be problematic.
"They'll think twice if the helper completed only a few months. They want to make sure they're paying for a reliable helper."
Even then, just one in 10 maids who complete their contracts and ask for a transfer actually get one. Most get sent home, Ms Leong added.
She suggested that the Government consider allowing maids to transfer at the end of their contract without having to seek their employer's consent.
This would also help transfer maids who stayed in Singapore during the pandemic, and thus help address the maid shortage, she said.