A programme to assess and certify a foreign maid's household skills is being piloted by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) in a bid to address the different work expectations of the workers and their employers.
The organisation, an NTUC initiative which looks after the needs of maids here, found in a 2017 survey that many employers felt that their workers were not adequately trained, despite the workers' claims that they have undergone training.
Such a significant mismatch in expectations often leads to disharmony, CDE executive director Shamsul Kamar Mohamed Razali said during the organisation's third anniversary celebrations yesterday at NTUC Centre.
"It's actually a perception mismatch. Every home is different - you may be a bit more lenient, but I may not; you might have standards that are higher and so on and so forth," said Mr Shamsul.
CDE's survey found that only about half (54 per cent) of the 1,004 employers surveyed felt that their maids were adequately trained.
In contrast, nearly all of the 1,012 workers surveyed claimed to have undergone training.
"Our larger picture is to assure Singaporean employers that those with (the certification) have got the skill sets, and you know that they are quality (workers)," said Mr Shamsul, adding that CDE is working with employment agencies to assess newly recruited maids.
Where maids can get or give aid
Other new initiatives announced by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE ) during its third anniversary celebration:
•Last-mile assistance support: A CDE initiative in conjunction with the Singapore Red Cross Society that aims to help sick or injured maids get home safely when they are repatriated. The organisations are looking at having a Singapore Red Cross volunteer accompany the worker on the trip, while a Red Cross volunteer from the receiving country takes over once they arrive.
•Volunteer opportunities with the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN): Workers will volunteer with the APSN Centre for Adults to teach its trainees skills such as labelling, packing of items and general cleaning.
•Engagement programmes in CDE's shelter: The CDE is working with The Salvation Army to provide engagement activities and programmes to meaningfully engage workers during their stay in the CDE Shelter, which looks after distressed maids.
The programme - called the Assessment-Only-Pathway skills certification framework - could also encourage employment agents to step up their maid training, added Mr Shamsul.
It was developed by the organisation together with NTUC LearningHub.
Since October last year, about 30 workers have undergone the assessment, which tests their skill in performing household chores such as cleaning, ironing and cooking.
The workers pay $50 for the assessment and they receive a certificate on completion.
The programme has been welcomed by employers such as Madam Esther Chan.
The 72-year-old retired administrative assistant said she has had to coach many of the maids she hired.
She added: "Its definitely better to have this assessment. Someone must step in to check them."
More maids have also approached CDE for help, Mr Shamsul revealed.
Last year, it handled 1,358 cases, of which about half involved maids who needed advice on employment issues or who needed intervention from the authorities.
It also sheltered 373 workers in distress last year, more than twice the number in 2017 .
This increase is attributed to more maids being aware of the organisation's existence and the help that it offers, said Mr Shamsul.