Maids can opt for POSB accounts when seeking work permits

The Centre for Domestic Employees wants maids to set up bank accounts in Singapore - even before they arrive here to work - in a move to stamp out salary disputes in future.

The centre's chairman, Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, said a bank account keeps an electronic record of salary transfers, making it easier for maids and employers to keep track of payments.

"We want to be more active in solving salary disputes," Mr Yeo told reporters on the sidelines of a May Day celebration event for maids in Kovan yesterday.

Starting Sept 1, maids applying for Singapore work permits can opt to set up their POSB bank accounts as well. No minimum sum is required.

The bank card that they will receive after they arrive can also be used as an ez-link card. It is also a membership card that gives them better rates at some remittance firms, among other benefits, Mr Yeo said.

To attract more sign-ups, the centre will throw in a free SIM card when maids opt for the service.

More details will be released in time, said Mr Yeo, who is also assistant director-general of the National Trades Union Congress.

  • 607

  • Number of cases of help rendered by the Centre for Domestic Employees last year.

Maids who are already working here can apply for the service at the centre's offices at City Plaza, Peninsula Plaza and Union Square, Mr Yeo said.

As of January this year, the centre has helped maids claim $113,668 from employers since it started operations in 2016.

Last year, it clawed back $52,543 from employers who failed to pay their maids, or held on to their salaries for "safekeeping".

In 2017, the centre recorded 607 cases of help rendered, up from 517 the year before. Of these, salary disputes were the most common issue raised.

"Currently, maids come to us only after the disputes have happened. By that time, they are in a very pitiful state," Mr Yeo said.

"When we step in, sometimes, it is too late and they are getting ready to be sent back."

Mr Tay Khoon Beng, who runs Best Home Employment Agency, said having a bank account ready when maids arrive is a good move.

"But employers must also buy into having the monthly Giro (salary) payments," he added.

Indonesian Iswati, 32, who goes by only one name, said the service is very convenient.

"It is very good... Next time, maids won't face so many problems here," said Ms Iswati, who has been working as a maid here for six years.

About 2,000 maids attended yesterday's event, which included song and dance performances.

Maids could get free massages, hair cuts and sticker tattoos at the event, which kick-starts a month-long celebration organised by the labour movement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'Maids can opt for POSB accounts when seeking work permits'. Print Edition | Subscribe