MOM says incidence of underage maids low

Researchers from migrant worker group Transient Workers Count Too found four Myanmar workers under the legal minimum age of 23 here, during a survey on recruitment fees this year.

Among the 232 women surveyed, 16 from Myanmar and 10 from Indonesia were under 23 when they first arrived.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said "the incidence of foreign domestic workers not meeting the minimum age requirement is low". MOM said it "takes a serious view" of underage maids and has measures to deter employment agents bringing them here.

These agents risk being penalised if they do not make sure entry requirements are adhered to, including that maids must be at least 23. Agents who flout the rule can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to six months. MOM added that it audits agencies regularly.

It also ensures that new maids are told of the minimum age requirement during a settling-in programme they must attend. MOM staff also interview women who look relatively young to verify their application details and age.

The women will not be penalised if they come forward, MOM said. It is also important for the authorities in workers' home countries to ensure passport details are accurate, the ministry added.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'MOM says incidence of underage maids low'. Print Edition | Subscribe