Pilot scheme to bring more maids to Singapore starts this month

Indonesian and Filipino maids to be tested, isolated for 14 days in home countries first

More foreign domestic workers may soon be able to come into Singapore under a pilot programme that starts this month.

The programme, led by the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) and several maid agencies, will see domestic workers undergo additional safe management measures in their home countries before they can enter Singapore.

The programme will begin this month, and is intended to help meet the domestic and caregiving needs of local households.

In a statement yesterday, the association said that workers will undergo multiple Covid-19 tests over a 14-day period at isolation facilities in their home countries before coming to Singapore.

They will be subject to prevailing arrival measures, including a 14-day stay-home notice, Covid-19 testing protocols and safe management measures.

The pilot covers domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines for a start.

Employers who hire domestic workers through the pilot will have to pay additional fees to cover the costs of overseas testing and getting the workers settled in.

Close to 70 employment agencies are participating in the programme.

The association will evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot in facilitating the entry of workers while minimising the risk of Covid-19 importation, it said.

It will explore helping more workers enter Singapore through this approach if it proves to be feasible.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in a Facebook post yesterday that she was heartened the association has stepped forward with several employment agencies to launch the pilot.

She acknowledged that since the number of foreign domestic workers entering Singapore was further reduced in May to manage the risk of imported Covid-19 infections, some families have been affected.

This is especially so for those with urgent caregiving needs.

Ms Gan noted that it has been challenging to restore the inflow of workers as the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve and remains volatile globally, and many foreign domestic workers come from countries with a high incidence of Covid-19 cases.

She said that her ministry will work with the association to continue to give priority to families with urgent and challenging caregiving needs.

"Once there is more certainty on the Covid-19 situation, we will allow more domestic helpers to enter Singapore," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2021, with the headline 'Pilot scheme to bring more maids to Singapore starts this month'. Subscribe