Higher pay for Indonesian maids from next year

The Indonesian Embassy has announced that employers will have to pay more to hire an Indonesian maid from next year. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Employers will have to pay more to hire an Indonesian maid from next year.

The Indonesian Embassy had announced in a letter to Singapore maid agents last month that maids from its country must be paid at least $550 a month, up from the current $500. The last round of increase was in September last year, from $450 to $500.

There are about 125,000 Indonesian maids in Singapore, making up about half of the foreign domestic worker population here.

Indonesian Embassy counsellor Sukmo Yuwono told The Straits Times that the increased minimum wage applies to domestic helpers coming to work here from January next year, and those renewing their contracts next year. He cited several reasons for the Indonesian government's decision, including protecting Indonesian women who go abroad to work.

"We have to protect the income of the Indonesian maids. Singapore also doesn't have a minimum wage, unlike others like Taiwan and Hong Kong," he said.

Mr Gary Chin, managing director of Nation Employment, a maid agency, said that higher salaries might attract more applicants to work here.

"But the increases might be too frequent. Employers need some time to digest and get used to it. Some might consider hiring workers of other nationalities," he said, adding that domestic workers here are paid $450 to $550 each month.

Another agency owner, who declined to be named, said that the increase came as a surprise as worker salaries was not one of the issues raised at a recent meeting an Indonesian government official had with several maid agencies.

"We discussed many other issues like regulation and loans, but salary was not one of them," he said.

"We will continue to face increasing salaries if we don't improve the work conditions here," he said. "The supplying countries can't change our laws and regulations. The only thing they can control is the salary of their workers."

When contacted, the Ministry of Manpower said that it has not received any official notice about the new minimum wage set by the Indonesian government.

"While source countries may choose to impose additional requirements administered by the foreign government or embassy, employment agencies and employers should assess whether they can fulfil these requirements when recruiting foreign domestic workers and making their hiring decisions respectively," a spokesman said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline Higher pay for Indonesian maids from next year. Subscribe