23 Jul 2014

FDW Source country - Philippines

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Read:  PEM Maid Employment Agency, Yvonne Phua and 13 Filipinos, believed to be trafficking and doing illegal recruitment.  Reason is lack of POEA authorization to hire and send workers to other countries.

Philippine partners responsible for maid documentation, say S'pore agencies, Channel News Asia, 22 Jul 2014
Maid agencies in Singapore say the onus is on the partners they work with in the Philippines to ensure proper documentation for bringing Filipino maids into Singapore.

Singaporean Yvonne Phua, who is currently under arrest in the Philippines for suspected human trafficking, allegedly brought Filipino maids into Singapore illegally as a recruiter for PEM Maid Employment Agency. But the agency claims that its maids have proper certification issued by the Philippine authorities.

Filipino maids have to pass a whole battery of certification and accreditation requirements with the Philippine authorities before they are allowed to work in Singapore. These include the Pre-Departure Registration and Orientation Seminars (PDOS), as well as certifications with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). However, these requirements are separate from those set by Singapore's Manpower Ministry.

Maid agencies in Singapore say the onus is on the partners they work with in the Philippines to ensure proper documentation to bring Filipino maids into Singapore, stressing that only accredited companies are able to produce the relevant documents.

Ms Ivy Lee, managing director of Maid-Power, said: "The agencies here who are bringing the girls - they have to be accredited with the Philippines Embassy. And that would mean we need to submit documents, our licence, and we also need to submit a copy of our counterparts’ licences. So when we do accreditation, we will know whether or not our partners are licensed. Because if they are not, there's no way they can produce documents for us to submit to the embassy.”

Many Singapore-based maid agencies need to tie up with Philippine counterparts due to difficulty in meeting the requirements, such as local Filipino ownership conditions, to set up a recruitment source.

However, agents from Singapore-based maid agencies are allowed to work together with their Philippine partners to interview, train or supervise the recruitment process within the premises of the accredited partner agency, even though the agent is not visiting the country for work.

K Jeyaprema, president of Association of Employment Agencies Singapore, said: “I think as long as you're involved in any type of recruitment process, even if it's supervising, or even if it's overseeing - it is considered to be a recruitment activity.”

Ms Phua's case rests on whether her Philippine partner company can indeed prove that it is licensed to operate as a recruitment agency in the Philippines.


Maids 'on display', The Straits Times, 5 Jul 2014
Two Singapore maid agencies have been barred by the Philippine government from recruiting Filipinos as they are being investigated for marketing maids as "commodities".  Manila launched the probe after Homekeeper and Budget Maid were named in a news report last Friday for having displayed maids in "galleries".

Some domestic workers sat at the agencies' shopfronts. But most of the women were sitting in the offices reading books or chatting with one another.  Agents who were interviewed said the domestic workers are not on display, and are there to meet potential employers.

Operations manager Lilian Ho of Innova Resource in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre said: "The domestic workers need to be here to be interviewed by employers. How else can they get jobs?"  The agents said the "mock living rooms" described in the report are training rooms, with furniture for the women to clean, and baby dolls which they use to learn how to care for infants.

While the rooms provide less-than-authentic work environments, the agents say the women still get to brush up on their skills.  MOM said it is "not unreasonable" for the maids to be seen doing chores in the agencies as some have training areas.  United Channel managing director Kerri Tan, whose agency has a training room in Katong Shopping Centre, agreed. She said: "The maids are actually learning. It is not for show."

The agents also clarified that their "$1 maid" banners are meant to grab attention, and do not actually mean that employers will pay only $1 to hire a maid. MPL Employment Agency boss Roy Siah said: "How can it be true that you will spend only $1? We will explain to employers that there will be extra fees."  Maids said they do not feel uncomfortable waiting to be interviewed by employers in their agencies' offices.  Ms Nanyati Moe, 25 and from Myanmar, said: "Employers can see me when I am here. If they like me, they will hire me. Then I can earn money for my family."


Philippines takes action at maid against two agencies in report.  TODAY, 3 Jul 2014
The Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore), or AEAS, yesterday dismissed claims made in a recent Al Jazeera article that maid agencies here are putting foreign domestic workers (FDWs) “on display” at shopping malls and treating them as “commodities”.

In response to media queries, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesperson said it had visited employment agencies in the two shopping centres mentioned in the report — Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Katong Shopping Centre.

The Al Jazeera report,others.shed last Friday, said the agencies in the malls “display women at work” and that the FDWs “sit beneath garish signs and posters, testifying to their friendliness and industriousness, or advertising ‘super promo’ rates and ‘special discounts’”.

Yesterday, Philippine Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement that the Philippine Overseas Labour Office had taken action against two employment agencies mentioned in the report. It suspended the accreditation of Homekeeper Agency — barring it from recruiting FDWs from the Philippines — for engaging in “the so-called ‘discount on maids’ marketing strategy” and referred Budget Maid Agency to the MOM as it was not accredited to recruit FDWs from the country.  The Philippine Embassy’s labour attache Vicente Cabe said the temporary suspension was imposed because investigations are being conducted.  Mr Cabe had previously told The Straits Times that he had visited Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and found that the Al Jazeera article “doesn’t seem to have basis”.


Speaking to TODAY, he reiterated: “We didn’t see (in the mall) what was reported ... we just saw the applicants sitting inside the office. Some agencies had advertisements saying they only charge this much for the service fees.”  He added that Homekeeper and Budget Maid “have not been found to have (committed) any wrongdoing yet”. Still, the embassy has asked the MOM to investigate, he said.  The embassy yesterday held a meeting with AEAS representatives and four employment agencies, including Homekeeper.

The MOM spokesperson noted that as some agencies have training facilities in their front offices, “it is not unreasonable for FDWs to be performing such chores at the employment agency’s premises”.  AEAS president K Jayaprema added: “There are many agencies that use the office premises to train the girls ... We’d rather not have candidates sit around idling and chit-chatting — you might as well do some training.”  She said the FDWs are at the agencies’ offices to wait for employers to pick them up or for interviews from prospective employers.

On the allegation that the agencies were offering discounts on FDWs, she pointed out that the photograph accompanying the Al Jazeera article showed an advertisement for a discount on the agency’s service fees — and not on the services of the domestic workers. “Any business person has the right to offer a discount,” Ms Jayaprema said.  She added: “It is a flawed article ... We’ve done our visits (to the malls) and we don’t think there is any violation.”  Still, Ms Jayaprema suggested that the agencies move their waiting and training areas to the back of their offices to prevent such misperception and word their advertisements more clearly.

The ASEAS is appealing to the Philippine Embassy on behalf of Homekeeper. It also hopes the suspension will be lifted as soon as possible.  Budget Maid could not be reached for comment.  Homekeeper managing director Carene Chin said the agency has contacted the Philippine Embassy and provided evidence to prove that the allegations were false.  She added that the agency was considering its legal options.  The allegations are “nonsense”, Ms Chin said. “It is a very irresponsible article, (the author) has not done his research well. Just ... jumping to conclusions.”  Al Jazeera did not respond to queries by press time.

The MOM spokesperson stressed that inappropriate display of FDWs at the premises of employment agencies or advertising them as being “available for hire at cheap or discounted prices” were unacceptable practices.  The spokesperson said: “MOM proactively audits Singapore employment agencies and those found to have acted in a manner detrimental to the interest of the FDWs will be dealt with in accordance with the Employment Agencies Act.”





The Manpower Ministry's respond to media reports on the treatment of Filipino maids in Singapore.
MOM has said inappropriately displaying foreign domestic workers at employment agencies in Singapore, or advertising them as being “available for hire at cheap or discounted prices”, are “unacceptable” practices.

“MOM requires employment agencies to be responsible and accord basic respect in their practices to both their clients - the employer and the foreign domestic workers - and expects them to exercise sensitivity when marketing their fees or services,” the ministry said in a statement sent to Channel NewsAsia.

The ministry said it proactively audits employment agencies in Singapore, and these agencies are informed that they are not allowed to restrict foreign domestic workers’ movements, or make them remain outside the agencies’ premises against their will.  

Winter:  How nice and caring of MOM to tell maid agencies not to restrict FDWs' movement.  If anything happens, the maid who is sitting at the agency waiting to be fished, bears no losses.  If she gets hurt or did something bad/illegal while given 'free movement', whoever is the existing employer will be forced to pick up that maid's costs and irresponsible actions. How would you know FDW didn't date man?  How would you know she's not moonlighting?  MOM can recommend lots of things in FDWs' favour, what can you do?  MOM wants to impress foreigners and repeatedly placed employers at disadvantage, who's there to say words of fairness?  If Philippines is so protective and caring, why it is not doing the same for Filipinos working in its country and give them minimum salary... or legislate everybody can get a job but earn 10% of a Spore FDW's salary (based on cost to hire a FDW at S$1500 per month)? 

I do not agree maid agency should get FDWs to do work in the name of training.  Training should be done in a proper training centre.  The transfer maids that I was keen to interview, the agencies have pre-arranged for them to wait at the agency.  I did happen to meet a few FDWs idling at the agency or chit-chatting.  One of them was away so the agent rang her to come over.  Another was on her way back to agency, holding a bag of coffee (my ex-maid, J)... I was then a walk-in customer with no appointment.

My current maid said, maids waiting for transfer were asked to run errands for the agents eg go to embassy to do passport renewal, home leave application, etc ... are these relevant domestic training?  When JA renewed her passport last year, the agent sent a waiting-to-be-transferred maid to meet me and pass me JA's new passport.  That maid asked me whether I want a maid!  She is a FDW, not a staff but agent told me her staff will meet me (over the phone)!  

All I want to highlight is that MOM is treating FDWs too well, made recommendations/laws at our expense and doesn't care how much unfair liabilities employers have to bear!  We are merely ATM machines, activists/MOM seemed not to noticed we're human too!  Take note a lot are salaried-employers, not earning enough to live very well!

Philippines is a source country with no doubt, has Filipinos who can speak basic English but this country is super demanding, too proud and self-centred.  It is better to drop Philippines as a source country if MOM cares about citizens.  Filipino FDWs are hard to manage and be trained to become a 2-year good helper.  I have been stretching my neck really long but still, MOM is not doing hard enough to find better source country.  Thought experience Cambodia FDWs will ease my headache (if I need to employ a new FDW) but turned out under-supply ... in not-ready-mode!  


Here is a statement posted on the Philippines Department of Labour and Employment website:

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Singapore headed by Labor Attache Vicente Cabe has suspended its accreditation of a foreign placement agency (FPA) suspected of having been engaged in the so-called 'discount on maids' marketing strategy.

"Following my directive to verify a report that foreign domestic workers, including Filipino household service workers, are being put in display and made available for "purchase" at "discounted prices" in some shopping malls in Singapore, Labor Attache Cabe has reported that the POLO has suspended its accreditation of Homekeeper Agency, one of two agencies alleged to be involved in the practice," said Baldoz.

Citing the POLO report, she said the POLO had invited the manager of Homekeeper Agency to answer the allegation of treating their foreign household service workers like "commodities" and instructed them to bring to the Philippine Embassy the Filipino HSWs under their care for interview.  "The other agency, Budget Maid Agency, which is not accredited with POLO-Singapore, as well as the other agencies doing the same practice, had been referred to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower," Baldoz added.

In his report, Cabe said MOM officials had assured the Philippine Embassy and the POLO that they will look into the matter and provide feedback at the soonest. Meanwhile, Baldoz bared that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), headed by Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, has identified the four POEA-licensed agencies in the Philippines which has the Homekeeper Agency as their principals.

The POEA will base its subsequent action on their explanation," Baldoz elaborated. Further on the Secretary's instruction, Labor Attache Cabe also reported that the POLO was able to effect a settlement and obtain a refund of the money claims of two of the five Filipino household service workers who were present during the POLO's investigation during its inspection of the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre over the weekend.

One of the two, Louvette Seguerra, is from Davao City. She arrived in Singapore on 2013 November and had worked for two employers. Homekeeper Agency settled her claim of S$1,676 prior to her repatriation yesterday.

The other Filipino HSW, Gina Limpag arrived in Singapore last March and had worked for two employers. Homekeeper Agency refunded her plane fare and placement fee of S$724 (P25,338) before she was repatriated also yesterday, July 1.

The three other Filipino HSWs are Mary Grace Cansejo, Armie Ponce, and Lilia Patrocinio. The POLO is still working on their cases. The other day, Baldoz had directed the POLO and the POEA to coordinate their efforts in laying down stricter measures to protect Filipino domestic workers from practices that degrades human dignity, such as the so-called 'discount on maids' marketing strategy practiced by FPAs in Singapore.

The Akbayan party-list group has denounced what it called a "modern-day slave auction" in Singapore in which maids, including Filipinos, are displayed and marketed at a shopping mall in the city state.  The group Tuesday called on the Singapore government to crack down on the "display and marketing of migrant workers" at the Bukit Timah Shopping Center.

The practice is dehumanizing and degrading for migrant workers who are being treated like "ordinary commodities," said Walden Bello, the Akbayan member in the House of Representatives.  Citing a report by the Al Jazeera TV network, Akbayan said migrants from the Philippines, Indonesia and Burma (Myanmar) working in "maid agencies" were being made to sit beneath signs identifying them as "Homekeeper" or "Budget Maid."

Prospective employers may choose from "super-promo" and "special discount rates," in which Filipinos are tagged as "smarter," Indonesians as "less bright," and Burmese workers as "sweet-natured and compliant."  "The workers are also made to simulate real-life housework, like taking care of the elderly or children," the group said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay on Monday called for an investigation into the Al Jazeera report.

Akbayan has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to demand that the Singapore government immediately put an end to the practice and hold those behind it accountable. "We should express our extreme disappointment, if not our anger, to the Singaporean government, that this can happen right under their noses and in full view of the public," Bello said.

"The fact that this was done as if it were a legitimate enterprise should be of grave concern not only to us but to the Singaporean government," he added.  Bello also urged the DFA to enforce stricter regulations to ensure that Filipinos are not victimized by human traffickers.  He is concerned that Filipinos subjected to such modern-day slave auctions are the same ones victimized by illegal recruiters and do not have labour contracts.

"At our end, we can tighten the avenues by which these traffickers transport our migrant workers out of the country and into these slave auctions. This will need stronger coordination between the DFA and our law-enforcement agencies and the Bureau of Immigration," Bello said.

"Our officials must be vigilant and look into seemingly benign activities because it may in fact be human trafficking in the guise of tourism," he said.  An estimated 170,000 Filipinos live and work in Singapore.


It is better to drop Philippines as a source country if MOM cares about citizens.  Philippines has been taking the lead to make unreasonable demands.  How could human traffickers exist in a country known as Spore?  Is Spore well known as a corrupted, chaotic and country with poor management? There are strict laws for citizens to abide.   Any way, just another show time for PAP/MOM to show how much they adore foreigners, especially FDWs.... at unfortunate citizens' expense.  

Spore ought to shiver in fear because PAP/MOM enjoys telling the 'whole world', we cannot survive without foreigners, Spore may collapse without these strong foreign pillars, Spore cannot afford to lose 'good friends'.... MOM better comply with all the source countries' demand and do as much damages to Employers/Citizens ... correct?  Correct me if I'm wrong ... I hope I'm in the wrong, means there's still hope to have a caring govt and not always bending down to please others.  It is good to be gracious and accommodating but to such extend?  Yes we are a tiny country but please don't offer your face to be slapped by others.  If source country is deliberately making a fuss, being demanding, resort to threats, claimed salary & employment terms are lousy, please tell them to tie their citizens, don't allow any of them to be employed overseas.  好货色 自己留 别飞过来 嫌东嫌西 把自己弄成被迫。 你们没有脑残 何必飞过来 '受苦'.

PAP, please make our lives easier, give us higher salary, lower the living standard, provide cheaper HDB housing and medical so that citizens just need one income and can fire FDWs .... women stay home to be good mothers ... simple logic yet PAP/MOM avoiding!   Don't you feel frustrated and that we are being manipulated and taken advantage?  I wish all these reports/acts of MOM & PAP are untrue but what I see, tell me to stop living in illusion. 不要自欺欺人 向鸵鸟. 

In Spore, if a Filipino FDW did something wrong eg taking things that doesn't belong to her, the sentence given was very light.  Read this: Facebook maid-thief ($6300 thief) Evelyn Macaraya Clotario vs a Malaysian Ansar ($2 thief) and a 39 year man ($10 thief).  Others get punished severely but FDWs are not.  MOM is showing double standard and its 'undying love' cum biased.  By giving light sentences or letting FDWs go scot-free, it is not a deterrent, it is encouraging FDWs to be bad and sending signals to source country such as Philippines to demand more, make our lives more miserable ... because most of the time, MOM is making citizens give in, absorb the damages and inconveniences!



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Winter:  Filipino FDWs, the more preferred nationalities for expatriates and employers who prefer a person who can communicate in basic English.  Filipino were chosen not because they have better skills, good heart, hard working, co-operative or better working attitude.  Personally, Filipino FDWs have the worst attitude and tend to complain much more than others, basically due to the fact they know English ... thus, putting them higher on the table and heads looking upwards.  Filipino FDWs are rated to be proud, egoistic, full of of pride which lead to lots of demands/expectations from their job/employers.  They certainly don't fall into the category of an easy to manage employee.  

Why did I stick to Filipino FDWs since I 'didn't like' them, cost more and they are not of better quality?
I chose Filipino FDWs because of English.  I need a helper whom I can communicate in English instead of sign language/gestures.  

Read:
Training my Indonesian maid part 1  (English barrier)
Training my Indonesian maid part 2
so many Bruises on my girl
Maid 女佣 made mistakes but denied
Maid's negligence
Maid deliberately switched off her senses
Training an experienced domestic maid (No English barrier but purposely forget and poor attitude)
My 4th filipino FDW (JA)

I need a street smart person who can handle my child by taking her to special school and learn from teachers... understand what the teachers are saying then do the tasks at home.  There are plenty of Indonesian or Myanmar helpers in the special school.  Employers chose them because some could speak Bahasa/Malay or some employers are stay-home moms or have other family member to guide/supervise the maid.... the maid is not alone to handle the child.  I know I can't manage a Filipino maid nor be 'harsh' so I nowadays, I'm almost 2 eyes closed.  Just don't let me see my child hurt or can't wait to get away from you ... red alert!  My child can't complain but I can read her body language, constant crying when FDW touches her and see marks/bruises on her body.  I may appear 'stupid' or easy to be manipulated by maid (in FDW's eyes) but my mother's instinct is still there, I still love my child and will not allow her to be ill-treated by a person I've employed to care for her well-being.


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I believe that many of the readers understand your plight and the issue of protection against employers has been lobbying around administration of government without any result for many years.

There are many underlining problem pertaining to this issue that your local agencies just can’t put to words and government agencies unwilling or simply refuses to address them. Hence allow me to explain to you and all the other reader the hindrance that government of employing countries that they face, which includes our Singapore government.

1.       Philippines Double Standard
Maids from Philippines to overseas are deployed under their Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). Which means the employer must pay a minimum wages of USD$400 per month with a day off each week. With the success of these deployments to Hong Kong (Maid), Taiwan (Maid) and Japan (Prostitutes), the Philippine government had been aggressively marketing this concept to all other countries and in many ways forcing them with an ultimatum. The POEA was market under the cover of human right protection to the workers and they promote those few countries as a showcase as an example for other countries to follow. However, they conveniently forgot to inform all the countries they pushing to implement the POEA, is that these workers going to these “prime” countries will have to pay for all expenses. All expenses includes air-ticket, medical examination, training, agency fee in the Philippines, government administration fees, tax, interest and commission for the agencies from the employer’s country.  Hence, employers are not required to pay anything to get the workers. Hong Kong would cost the workers about $3,000, Taiwan would cost them about RM3,550 and Japan a whopping $7,400.

Philippines had been playing double standard towards all other countries and lying to all the government they push, with a face palm. Which means the cost of deployment would be force solely on to employers. While the workers still would have to pay something but not pay such a hefty sum. This is also the main reason why Singapore government refuses to co-cooperate on the POEA and they find it extremely unfair toward Singaporean and employer of this double standard. In fact, majority of the countries do not support POEA, many countries would advise the worker to travel to their country under social visit so these workers do not have to pay bondage.


2.       Indonesia
Majority of the cost of deployment is not the cost of maid but the cost of acquiring such bio-data. The system in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia is somewhat the same, since these market were all established by Malaysian and Singaporean agencies for their countrymen.

Each local agency in Indonesia will pay a middle man that is task for a selected region. The middle-man would than task it to individual that would travel, kampong to kampong. Once these maids are collected, the main hub agency would then throw in a $500 cash given to the maid’s family and another $1,500 per maid as their profit.

As you can see, the cost of deployment is mainly due to the cost of agencies in their country. These countries enjoy their GDP with the deployment of these maids. Without a proper tax system, this is the only viable way their country can make money from their citizens. So how to protect workers when the maid was not the actual individual that results in such cost, it is all the middle-man and agencies that are owned by cronies are making the kill.

We must not forget that local agencies in Singapore face one bigger problems when comes to acquire maids. Many overseas agencies are indebted financially to local agencies. It is expected that sooner or later these debt will be written off. So local agencies would have to put that “future debt” in to consideration which means increase cost for employer. Understand there is no legal avenue that provides assurance to local agency being able to collect such debt. This is part of the problem, part of the cost and agencies perform as middle-man, they would not be place in a position to bare all risk. Local agency earn about mere $800 per maid. They will also have to bare cost of return maid whom is unfit or fail the Singapore test.

So the answer to your question whether the government or authorities can do anything to protect employers, well………there is nothing. My only suggestion is to employ local Care-Taker or nurse, if looking after your disable father is the main reasons because if you would average the cost out, it might be even cheaper in the long run. Many employers had that pre-text but they actually need the maid more for housework, cooking and other stuff, that is why they feel they can’t employ nurse or caretaker.


Posted by Eugene Lim
Copied above from here


Impact of moratorium on sending Filipino maids to S’pore ‘minimal’, TODAY, 21 Sep 2013
Despite an industry-led moratorium on the deployment of domestic workers from the Philippines to Singapore that took effect this month, employment agencies here said they have not been greatly affected, although the waiting time for a Filipino maid is longer.   This is because recruitment agencies in the Philippines that are not participating in the moratorium — aimed at cracking down on the practice of imposing placement fees on Filipino maids — continue to send maids here, said agencies here.

Five local employment agencies TODAY spoke to said the waiting time for a maid from the Philippines is now two months, compared to four to five weeks previously, but the moratorium’s impact was otherwise minimal. The agencies declined to be named.

In July, the Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies for Singapore announced that it was staging a moratorium on the deployment of maids to Singapore until more employment agencies here stop deducting placement fees from maids’ salaries when they begin work here.   Such fees can run as high as S$2,400. The association wants employers to bear the cost instead.

Ms Lucita Sermonia, President of the association, said in a press release that the temporary halt in deployment will be “lifted as soon as 60 per cent of the Singapore employment agencies have accepted the new terms of hiring”.  The 120-strong association represents a relatively small portion of the over 1,000 recruitment agencies in the Philippines, but its member agencies make up most of the agencies that recruits Filipinos for domestic work in Singapore.

Nonetheless, as the moratorium only applies to the association’s member agencies, other agencies can continue to supply workers, said Ms K Jayaprema, President of the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS).  Mr Vicente Cabe, Labour Attache at the Philippines embassy in Singapore, acknowledged: “The association’s move is a private decision made by its member agencies, the Philippines is a free democratic society, the government cannot stop them.”

And even with laws against imposing placement fees on workers in the Philippines, as well as laws in Singapore limiting deductions from a worker’s salary, some agencies continue to charge maids, he pointed out.

For example in Singapore, some agencies deduct maids’ salaries for six to eight months, even though Singapore laws only allow a maximum of one month of salary deductions per year of contract, for a two-year contract.   Still, by requiring employers to bear the full placement fees, Filipino maids may end up being “priced out of the market” in the long run, they said.

A representative from one agency pointed out that some workers have contacted her from the Philippines asking her to help them come to Singapore as they are desperate for work, but her hands are tied.   Added a staff member from another agency: “(The industry)’s very disorderly — in the end, the maids are still the milk cows.”

Ms Jayaprema, however, was optimistic. “Everybody’s moving forward — most local agencies are mindful of the policy and many have started to collect the placement fees from employers,” she said.  Ms Bridget Tan, President of Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), a non-profit organisation providing assistance to migrant workers in Singapore, said the latest round of efforts is different in that it is the first major move by market players — not the government — to push for enforcement.

The moratorium is a “sneak preview to what is to come” — an inevitable change in industry practices to better support migrant rights — and at the very heart of the issue is the need for employers to recognise domestic workers as equals to any other working individual, she said.

Employers must learn how to manage their relationships with maids in the same way all employers manage employees, she added.   The Philippine Embassy in Singapore has stopped accepting new applications for employment agency accreditation since June, as part of efforts to enforce its regulations protecting maids.   The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration, which processes migrant applications and accredits Singaporean employment agencies, has some 200 accredited Singapore agencies on its records, but just half are active. Fewer than 10 agencies have lost their accreditation this year so far.

As the cost of hiring a Filipino maid rises, some agencies have seen a rise in demand for maids from other countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar. Others say “transfer maids” — those already working in Singapore but are looking for a change of employers — now make up a bigger part of their business, with lower costs and less hassle involved.

One agency said: “The industry has always learnt to cope with these problems, what else can we do but tighten our belts.”


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Time to go home?  Philippines has good job offers waiting for them?

The economic figures paint a rosy picture for the Philippines. The country is rated as the best performer in the region by various financial analysts. Filipinos swell with pride as they hear their leaders talk about how the Philippines is no longer the sick man of Asia, but the country with the best growth prospects.
So, should home-sick Filipinos be rushing back home, where a job in the Philippines can mean for many, a reunion with families and the comforts of a familiar environment?

Former President Fidel Ramos, who was in Singapore recently, is more down-to-earth.  The truth, he told Filipino community leaders at a talk at the Philippine Ambassador’s residence, is that while GDP growth in the Philippines has been remarkable, this has not translated into a increase in per capita income.

In other words, the average Filipino has not benefitted—his income has not gone up and in fact, the gap between the top earners and the average earners has widened.  Ramos cited the example of how countries in the region managed to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI). The Philippines managed to attract FDI amounting to only US$2 billion.

Singapore, on the other hand, was a star performer—foreign multinational corporations were confidently investing close to US$30 billion in the republic, said Ramos.  Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia were also doing better than the Philippines in attracting FDI.

So, his advice to the 200,000-strong Filipino community in Singapore: better to stay put in Singapore which is the place to be, at the moment.

He said: “Yes, you are needed back home, but the action is in Singapore. The income is here. Save your earnings, and when you put aside enough of a nest-egg to invest in a sustainable business in the Philippines, that would be the time to think about heading back to the Philippines.”

The OFWs – the heroes of the Philippines – are actually keeping the consumer-driven economy of the Philippines afloat with their hard-earned money which they faithfully remit home.

Ramos also stressed on the need for Filipinos to improve their use of English. For example, the call-centre business was a most lucrative enterprise, providing thousands of well-paying jobs to qualified Filipinos.

Yet, only two out of 10 Filipinos who applied, were found unsuitable for the job by the international call centres. This was because while many of the eight Filipinos could speak English, they were deemed not able to express themselves well enough to be understood by the rest of the English-speaking world.


Now somebody from Philippines is pointing out Filipinos' English is bad.
One simple example, every woman is called 'Mum', instead of Maam (British or American pronounciation) or Madam.  You enjoy become Filipino's mother?  I don't want to be reminded MOM has given me a grown up woman to be treated  like 'daughter'.  Ensure she's well and safe, living life better than me!

We are using English not Tagalog-English so don't call me Mum!  Because Filipinos are too prideful, they felt it is correct to make every woman become their mothers, especially FDWs so they insist on calling every woman 'Mum' for so many years.  Despite correction, I still have a stubborn FDW who insist on calling me 'Mum'.

Be it call centre service personnel, waiter, waitress, your co-worker, counter staff or promoter, we're 'Mums'.  I happened to visit one hotel for dinner recently.  The Chinese nationality waitress was under a Filipino supervisor so she addressed me as 'Mum'.  超级刺耳的称呼
Just like in the market, the fishmonger or stall owner is older than me but addressed me as 'Aunty'.  冒火, spoil my day. 

Am I suppose to call you Ah peh or Ah po?  Some people said it is basic courtesy to address but using 'aunty' and causing a person to have bad mood ... correct?
Not long again, I went to one of the Hypermart, there's a lady who wanted to weigh her fruits but the staff addressed her as 'Aunty'.  "I'm not married, how can you call me aunty".  This unwed lady was extremely angry.  I heard the staff grumbled behind her back "she looked older than her, address aunty cannot meh"


********************
It is extremely unfair to make employers absorb the cost of FDW's placement fees. If maid wants a job in Spore, she should pay, otherwise, don't come! There's no such thing as Free Lunch! By making Employers foot their costs, it is encouraging Filipinos to job hop, show no job committment, come to Spore as princesses and give us more problems, can anytime say bye-bye because there's nothing .... no loan to tie them down.

If maids want to save money, eliminate middlemen and maid agencies, as well as getting source govt to be involved .... they just want to load their pockets with money from the easiest targets .... Spore employers because we don't have a caring govt, our MOM is very pro-maid and pro-agency.

Filipinos will be jumping with joy because MOM will endorse this by KEEPING QUIET. The existing MOM policies are so unfair yet MOM didn't stop thinking of implementating more. Source countries are so demanding but MOM just sit back and watch us suffer.

If Philippines is determined to squeeze more money from FDW's Employers and make us look like idiots or ATM machines, I hope those prideful Filipino FDWs can forget about working in Spore legally or best part .... totally vacant this little red dot.

Go to other places that you claimed you're wanted at a higher salary .... GO, nobody stopping you and keeping you in a place that you assumed didn't treat you well. Otherwise, stay in your own country since your Phil govt so caring and know how to help you save money.  The money we are paying is low, not enough to 塞牙缝.

If Phil govt thought Sporeans have pockets full of cash to employ your citizens, I am sure you'll discover we are not rich, most salaried Employers employed maids due to necessity. Since it is a necessity, we wouldn't want to pay more and take in more risks.

Employers who have other choices, will go for other nationalities eg Cambodian or opt for subsidized childcare centres. The chances of fresh Filipinos running away or ask for transfer will be higher because they only need to pay one to two months as transfer fee, no more hefy loan weighing on them .... it became employers' financial burden!

Employers have absolutely no protection nor any guarantee that FDWs will commit herself to work if paid so much. You dare employ Filipinos? Ask those people taking about human rights and rich to hire you.... that means the Filipinos in Spore will reduce very soon.... good news... looking forward to see stubborn Filipinos FDWs, thought so highly about themselves and don't behave like sensible FDWs O-U-T of Spore!

Now already so hard to get a Filipino who can deliver her duties as per our requirements, with such crazy source country's term, it will only make fresh Filipinos undesirable. Who wants to employ a maid and constantly worry when she'll fire her employer, make her pocket bleed? How come Phil or Indo don't get the meaning of Sporeans are not all wealthy people .... there're no gold mines waiting for them to dig?

Read: cost to hire a maid

Manila to stop giving new licences to Singapore maid agencies, Straits Times, 19 Jun
Singapore maid agencies are being barred from taking out new licences to source for workers in the Philippines in a move by Manila to crack down on firms flouting its rules.

The country's embassy will limit the number of licensed companies to the current pool of about 100 and new applications will be rejected. Philippine labour attache Vicente Cabe confirmed that the new policy came into effect on June 1 and is the next phase of efforts by the embassy to enforce its rules.

The Philippine government wants employers to bear domestic workers' placement fees, which cost S$2,000 (US$1,600) on average, or four months' salary.  It wants to prevent maids from having to pay for this. Currently, employers pay agencies S$400 to S$600 to hire a Filipino maid, but the requirements will see this rising to between S$2,400 and S$2,600.

Cabe said Singapore maid agencies are still breaking the rules by charging the workers placement fees, even though he has blacklisted about 10 of them in recent months. These firms have been stopped from bringing in domestic workers temporarily.

"By limiting the number of licensed agencies, I will be able to monitor them more closely and get them to follow the rules," he added.
Cabe said another reason for the new policy is that some of the blacklisted agencies are getting around the rules by setting up new firms and applying for new licences. "With new licences, they will be able to recruit the workers anyway. This defeats the purpose of the suspension."

The embassy stepped up enforcement of the rules last year, although they were introduced more than a decade ago.
Maid agencies that spoke to The Straits Times anonymously for fear of backlash from the embassy said the new policy may actually force more players to break the rules instead of getting them to go by the book.

One agent said: "The new policy will not stop new players from entering the market. Instead, they will just recruit workers illegally in the Philippines without a licence."
The agencies foresee that new players will bring in Filipino maids as tourists and the women will end up worse off as their rights will not be protected.

The maids comply with Singapore laws as they are working here legally with the work permits that their agents help them to apply for after they arrive.
But the women will not be registered by the Philippine government as overseas workers - meaning they are not entitled to the employment terms set by Manila, such as being charged no placement fees, having four days off a month and a monthly salary of at least S$500. The Straits Times reported in April that some maid agencies are already bringing in Filipino maids as tourists.

They offer bribes of about S$1,200 to immigration officers and airline ticketing staff to allow the women to leave the Philippines with "no questions asked".
Cabe said airport immigration officers in the Philippines have been told to be vigilant in their checks and will not accept the bribes.

Bridget Tan, chief executive of foreign workers' group the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), agreed that it is difficult for agents to bring in domestic workers illegally as Manila has cracked down on corrupt immigration officers and Singapore agents can be charged with trafficking in the Philippines.



26 Aug
Philippines has made announcement to stop its citizens from flying out to work as maids. Indonesian also wants to do the same thing. So what must we do? Continue rely on them? Allow them to mark up, increase wages but work quality remain at record low? Singaporeans enjoy being or waiting to be slaughtered?


MOM wants to keep things this way, allows source countries and agencies to make the calls .... do whatsoever ways that can make needy employers' lives miserable? Otherwise, force mothers to stay home and be homemakers, indirectly welcoming more foreigners to fill the juicy positions, press our salary further down but increased our living costs?


Typhoon Haiyan: 'This is God's punishment'... Rebuilding lives amid the ruins of the Philippines
A week after Typhoon Haiyan roared through the eastern Philippines, the city of Tacloban is still struggling to cope with the devastation wrought by perhaps the most powerful ever storm of its kind. At its peak, the typhoon’s winds were as strong as 200mph.
Local people said Tacloban was perhaps 95 per cent Roman Catholic, with just a small number of Muslims. Many people struggling in the aftermath said they believed the mighty storm had been an act of God.

“Oh, there is a God. He saved us,” said 75-year-old Soledad Majos, a mother of nine children, who had spent the last five days in a church that had been transformed into an emergency shelter.
Why, then, send such a devastating storm? “Because there are so many bad people. This is his punishment.”

The Philippines is disaster-prone. Filipinos are stoic about their fate, given the periodic earthquakes and typhoons. However, disasters are never entirely an "act of God", as insurers put it, or "natural". The scale of fatalities and destruction rests on other factors such as political will at the national level, local capacities, infrastructure and protocols. For a country of 7,000-plus islands, highly dense urban populations, remote rural hamlets and mountainous regions, topography is also a significant factor. All these things explain in part why national and local governments have been recently overwhelmed – the disaster after the disaster.

The international community has been heart-piercing in its magnanimous support. Yet how far will they go in terms of shielding the Philippines and other vulnerable nations from routine cataclysm?


Philippines can conveniently stretch hands for free money?
My colleague asked me whether I've made any donation, I said no, why should I? As a FDW's employer, facing a source country that is nasty and its citizens (FDWs) so proud, problematic, pampered and asking for princess entitlement, why should I be nice to this country? What makes Philippines think Sporeans are rich and can be kind to a country who hasn't been very nice?

Those people who had their homes destroyed maybe innocent and really poor thing but what Philippines govt did to me as a FDW's employer and others - stealing or jeopardising others' rice bowling (as foreign talents, managers or co-workers). One word to describe "Retribution".

You reap what you sow. Be bad to others, taking others' kindness for granted ... you get retribution!
Philippines planned to stop its citizens from coming to work as FDWs... go ahead.  We don't need your prideful and expensive citizens as FDWs.  I'm not keen to absorb FDW' local agency and Spore agent fee... totally no maid loan, nothing to tie her, no policies to ensure Filipinos will be more hardworking, appreciative and trainable.


Keep your citizens at home to rebuild what has been destroyed.  Use your own funds and stop relying on others for money.

If you think people like me and below are evil, I suppose you've not been hit by the 'Filipino tidal wave in Spore'.
You are not in the wrong to be a philanthropist/samaritan but you cannot make others, especially those who have suffered or affected by the Filipinos in Spore to forget and forgive.  Prideful Filipinos don't seem to be appreciative and grateful.  
As Managers and Supervisors, holding degrees .... I guess you've 'valid reason' to step on people lower than you but as FDW (maid), less educated, how can she step or bully me?  Is this the way Filipinos are brought up to be? I cannot forget what I'm going thru especially I have one not too fantastic domestic helper living with me... this is on-going.  How I wish Filipino maids who are working for me are not prideful, be humble, responsible, trainable and honest.

Anyway, there are plenty of Sporeans who have hearts filled with gold, extremely charitable to foreigners so just a few of us who are giving unfriendly remarks or 落井下石 rubbing salt to the wound is no big deal. 

If you see this post, I don't think you need to make a big fuss. 



AsiaOne
Filipinos abroad who have spent harrowing days trying to contact loved ones after a typhoon devastated their homeland are mobilising to send relief, despite misgivings about corrupt local officials pocketing aid on the ground.

And from Asian capitals to the United States and Europe, Filipino communities are taking to churches and social media sites to raise funds for communities left with nothing - and growing increasingly desperate.  In Hong Kong, where some 150,000 Filipinos work as domestic helpers, the Red Cross said a hotline set up to trace the missing had been overwhelmed since the typhoon smashed into the nation's central islands, displacing an estimated 673,000.
"The maids were crying. They didn't know what to do," spokeswoman Denise Wong told AFP.

Liezel Miralles, a 40-year-old domestic worker from Batad, a coastal town of 20,000 people, had not been able to contact her husband and other relatives to find out if they had survived.  "I feel very, very, very sad, my whole family is there," Miralles said as she bought groceries for her employer at a street-side market. "There is no house, no phone, no connection."

On Sunday, when Hong Kong's downtown throngs with domestic helpers congregating on their day off, worker groups will hold an "information drive" on the crisis and gather donations.  But support group United Filipinos is one of many organisations and individuals around the world planning to direct aid only to non-government agencies.
"We are afraid that if we send to the government, it will just to go their pockets and will not reach the beneficiaries," secretary general Eman Villanueva told AFP.  "Politicians are using it for their own benefit even in the midst of this devastating situation. They are still thinking for themselves."

In Singapore, Filipina expatriate Dimples Larrazabal said the 24 hours it took for her to get in touch with her mother, her brother and his family in the town of Ormoc in devastated Leyte province seemed like an eternity.  "At first I was half-positive (that things would be OK) because our house is a good structure," said Larrazabal, a 35-year-old home-maker. But she began to panic after seeing photos showing the unimaginable devastation.

Although many toil for low wages as construction workers, maids, sailors and janitors, they are collectively a major economic force and last year sent home $21.4 billion, almost 9 per cent of the nation's economic output.
"Support from our kababayans (countrymen) abroad is overwhelming. Despite their dire circumstances, they are more than willing and ready to pitch in," said Garry Martinez, the chairman of Migrante International, a group supporting overseas Filipinos.  "The bigger tragedy is if corrupt officials in government exploit this calamity to further plunder and steal funds meant for victims and survivors, Martinez said.


Widespread abuses and personal enrichment by government officials followed previous disasters including Typhoon Bopha in December 2012, said Nicole Dumaguindin from US umbrella group, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.  "The government is slow to distribute public funds and relief goods, making the devastation worse," she said adding that expat Filipinos would still give, but do so more carefully.  "Until the weak, vulnerable infrastructure in the Philippines changes, corruption will always be a problem," Dumaguindin said. "People living abroad are now more vigilant of the Philippine government's track record."



Some Filipinos expressed their worries.  Will the cash donation be given to the right people or being pocketed?  Corruption, is this the first time you heard?
No matter what, these donations are not from Philippines-Filipinos.  Nobody forced you or any country to donate so if the money or supplies were misused, you can't have the funds or supplies back. 

We are afraid that if we send to the government, it will just to go their pockets and will not reach the beneficiaries,” secretary general Eman Villanueva told AFP.
Filipina expatriate Dimples Larrazabal said "Politicians are using it for their own benefit even in the midst of this devastating situation.

Generous donors:


Widespread abuses and personal enrichment by government officials followed previous disasters including Typhoon Bopha in December 2012, said Nicole Dumaguindin from US umbrella group, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. 

“Until the weak, vulnerable infrastructure in the Philippines changes, corruption will always be a problem,” Dumaguindin said. “People living abroad are now more vigilant of the Philippine government’s track record.

"I'm not going to mince words," said Mel Fernandez, the editorial adviser for the Filipino Migrant News. "We would like every cent to reach those poor people there rather than getting waylaid."
Corruption is a concern after any major natural disaster, as millions of dollars in cash and goods rush in from around the world. But those worries are especially acute in the Philippines, where graft has been a part of life for decades.

More than $270 million in foreign aid has been donated to help the victims of the Nov. 8 typhoon, which killed at least 3,976 people and left nearly 1,600 missing, according to government figures updated Monday. More than 4 million people have been displaced and need food, shelter and water. The typhoon also wrecked livelihoods on a massive scale, destroying crops, livestock, coconut plantations and fishing boats.

Much of the assistance in the early phase of a disaster response is in the form of food, water and other supplies. Far richer opportunities for graft occur later when rebuilding occurs and contracts are up for grabs.

But corruption probably has already made this typhoon worse. Money for roads was diverted, giving people less ability to evacuate. Hospitals didn't get the resources they should have. Some houses might not have been flattened if they had been built to code.
"Petty corruption in urban areas means that building inspections don't happen and building codes are not enforced," said Steven Rood, the Manila-based representative of The Asia Foundation, a non-profit development organization. "Even middle-class homes are not built to withstand a typhoon, much less poor homes."

Filipinos working abroad and sending money home to their families are an important source of cash in the country under any circumstances, but Fernandez, the New Zealand editorial adviser, expects that they will be skeptical about giving money to the government. He said he thinks they will simply donate to nongovernmental agencies providing aid to typhoon victims, but Rood wasn't certain even of that.  "There's a lot of cynicism, particularly in the expat community," Rood said. "People are put off. You see it in the social networks.

People are saying there's no point -- if they give money, it will just get stolen."
The typhoon has come at a time when some feel the Philippines might finally be cracking down on corruption. In its latest global corruption report, Transparency International found the Philippines was just one of 11 countries in which people said they were noticing an improvement in corruption levels.


Rood said he believes Philippine government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development are less corrupt than they once were and can be relied on to take the lead after disasters like the typhoon.

Garry Martinez, the chairman of Migrante International, a group supporting overseas Filipinos: “The bigger tragedy is if corrupt officials in government exploit this calamity to further plunder and steal funds meant for victims and survivors.


Local maid agencies turn to Myanmar, Cambodia after Philippines ban, Channel News Asia, 16 Oct
Maid recruitment agencies in Singapore have started turning to new sources of domestic workers like Myanmar and Cambodia. This follows the decision of the Manila-based Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore (ALRAS) to stop deploying Filipino domestic workers to Singapore from September 2 this year.

Maid agencies in Singapore said the Philippine authorities expect employers and not the maids to fork out the placement fees. The placement fees are for the processing of documents needed before the domestic worker can be sent to Singapore. But the agencies said not all employers are willing to pay the fees, resulting in a shortage of maids from the Philippines. They said Filipino maids may also complain to their authorities if the fees were deducted from their salary. This has resulted in more maids from Myanmar and Cambodia arriving in Singapore after undergoing training at home.

Maids from Myanmar started coming to Singapore two years ago. In terms of countries with the most maids in Singapore, Myanmar is in third place, behind Indonesia and the Philippines. Winnie Wang from Advance Link International Pte Ltd, said: "Myanmar maids -- you can say they are a group of people who are very decent. They are not much influenced by the social media, (with) less using handphones, Facebook, Youtube -- they just work, they are very hardworking. “Their English still need to be polished, we have to train them overseas first before they can come in and adapt to Singapore life.”


If Philippines is determined to squeeze more money from FDW's Employers and make us look like idiots or ATM machines, I hope those prideful Filipino FDWs can forget about working in Spore legally or best part .... totally vacant this little red dot. I hope this ban means BAN and not another evil plan to make Spore employers pay more for its citizen coming to fleece employers, not in a right mind to work as FDW, willingly be trained and become our good helper. MOM/PAP has to stop pampering maids and the source countries. We are not ATM machines nor idiots! I am very excited to see Filipinos vacant Spore. FDWs, go to other places that you claimed you're wanted at a higher salary and can treat you better than Spore as an inexperience new maid. GO, nobody stopping you and keeping you in a place that you assumed didn't treat you well. Otherwise, stay in your own country since your Phil govt is so caring and know how to help you save money - in the form of making us absorb your placement fee.

Philippines has to learn the hard way - Sporeans haven't got pockets full of cash to employ your citizens. We are not rich, most salaried Employers employed maids due to necessity. Since it is a necessity, we wouldn't want to pay more and take in more risks. Employers who have other choices, will go for other nationalities eg Cambodian or opt for subsidized childcare centres. By making employers absorb full recruitment fee (maid loan), the chances of Filipino FDWs running away or ask for transfer will be much higher because no more hefy loan weighing on them .... it becomes employers' nightmare to employ you! You don't need to pay a single cent, what makes you think you're the best helper and deserves such treatment? In Spore, we are forced to pay your debts/loan on your behalf, as a lump sum to your agency (thus, we ended up being held to ransom) and then deduct based on your monthly work. Filipino who wants to work in Hong Kong or Taiwan, has to pay loan by instalment. I don't understand why Phil govt think we owe you a decent life!

Spore Employers have absolutely no protection nor any guarantee that FDWs will commit herself to work if we agree to pay so much that is, S$3000 non-recoverable. If you're an employer, you dare employ Filipinos who are so demanding yet unable to deliver a proper domestic job - complete 2 year contract? I am looking forward to see stubborn Filipinos FDWs who thought so highly about themselves and don't behave like sensible FDWs to be O-U-T of Spore!

Make Phil or Indo get the meaning of Sporeans are not all wealthy people .... there're no gold mines waiting for them to dig!


Read: cost to hire a maid

Manila to stop giving new licences to Singapore maid agencies, Straits Times, 19 Jun
Singapore maid agencies are being barred from taking out new licences to source for workers in the Philippines in a move by Manila to crack down on firms flouting its rules.

The country's embassy will limit the number of licensed companies to the current pool of about 100 and new applications will be rejected.  Philippine labour attache Vicente Cabe confirmed that the new policy came into effect on June 1 and is the next phase of efforts by the embassy to enforce its rules.

The Philippine government wants employers to bear domestic workers' placement fees, which cost S$2,000 (US$1,600) on average, or four months' salary.

It wants to prevent maids from having to pay for this. Currently, employers pay agencies S$400 to S$600 to hire a Filipino maid, but the requirements will see this rising to between S$2,400 and S$2,600.

Cabe said Singapore maid agencies are still breaking the rules by charging the workers placement fees, even though he has blacklisted about 10 of them in recent months. These firms have been stopped from bringing in domestic workers temporarily.

"By limiting the number of licensed agencies, I will be able to monitor them more closely and get them to follow the rules," he added.

Cabe said another reason for the new policy is that some of the blacklisted agencies are getting around the rules by setting up new firms and applying for new licences. "With new licences, they will be able to recruit the workers anyway. This defeats the purpose of the suspension."

The embassy stepped up enforcement of the rules last year, although they were introduced more than a decade ago.

Maid agencies that spoke to The Straits Times anonymously for fear of backlash from the embassy said the new policy may actually force more players to break the rules instead of getting them to go by the book.

One agent said: "The new policy will not stop new players from entering the market. Instead, they will just recruit workers illegally in the Philippines without a licence."

The agencies foresee that new players will bring in Filipino maids as tourists and the women will end up worse off as their rights will not be protected.

The maids comply with Singapore laws as they are working here legally with the work permits that their agents help them to apply for after they arrive.

But the women will not be registered by the Philippine government as overseas workers - meaning they are not entitled to the employment terms set by Manila, such as being charged no placement fees, having four days off a month and a monthly salary of at least S$500. The Straits Times reported in April that some maid agencies are already bringing in Filipino maids as tourists.

They offer bribes of about S$1,200 to immigration officers and airline ticketing staff to allow the women to leave the Philippines with "no questions asked".

Cabe said airport immigration officers in the Philippines have been told to be vigilant in their checks and will not accept the bribes.

Bridget Tan, chief executive of foreign workers' group the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), agreed that it is difficult for agents to bring in domestic workers illegally as Manila has cracked down on corrupt immigration officers and Singapore agents can be charged with trafficking in the Philippines.



19 Jul 2014

Wrongly squeezed - regulate maid agencies and FDWs

Putting weight on the wrong side - Employers need protection!
Regulate maid agencies and FDWs.  Don't treat Employers like ATM machines.

Click: Content page - All topics



Read:  PEM Maid Employment Agency, Yvonne Phua and 13 Filipinos, believed to be trafficking and doing illegal recruitment.  Reason is cack of POEA authorization to hire and send workers to other countries.


Winter:  For once, Facebook maid has hit the nail .... I agree that "force the foreign agent to collect money in maid's own country, it's because I want it to be clear to the maid's family what's happening and not let the foreign agent lie to the maid's family that it is the Singapore agent greedy".  Read more Facebook maid's comments here.

If this S$1000 is cap for both Employer (includes everything - eg Spore insurance, SIP, admin fee, pre-employment medical cost, work permit, etc) and FDW (flight, admin work, training), I feel we're not feeding the greedy agencies.  Agencies deserved to be paid for their services but should not multiple their actual costs by 3 or 5 times.  Anybody with access to MOM website and budget airline websites knows the costs.  The only 'hidden cost' is fake/unsuitable training at source country.  This training cost should be eliminated.  Give employer the option to have a source country trained maid, trained in Spore agency or trained at Employer's house.  Personally, I trust my own training - more relevant to my house and daughter's needs.

To be fair to both FDW and Employer, a check list should be used together with a job requirement.  Both parties must sign after agent has gone through both parties' requirements, followed by local contract and payment.  This is to clamp down on agency trying to 'market' FDWs who don't fit our needs but were persuaded to TRY.  By trying, both FDW and Employer will enable agency earn another/many rounds of agency fee - transfer!  Any FDW who has high expectations and wasn't suitable for employer should be repatriated home by maid agency.  Maid agency wanted to earn easy money in the form of transfer/recycling should be fined.  Any unrealistic FDW (demanding) who are left on the shelf for 21 days will have to pay for her own recruitment costs, including go home if nobody dares to hire her.  Don't make employers be ATM machines.  Don't allow princess attitude or poor quality FDWs to work in Spore and sponge on Employers.  We need helpers, not paid high fees to babysit a live-in adult or 'adopt' a daughter!

If FDW are allowed to try working in prospective employer's house for 3 to 7 days without paying all the upfront fees, it will be better.  Using a 3 to 7 days trial, Employer can assess the FDW and FDW can see the real working environment that FDW has to commit for 24 months.  Both parties must be truthful.  Employer shouldn't hide or show a 'discounted work scenario'.  During trial period, FDW should write down what she has done, what time she wakes up, eats what, what time she sleeps, etc.  Similarly for Employer, to record daily tasks assigned and FDW's rating for that task performed, time taken to complete, able to understand instruction, forgetful, etc.  A copy of this record shall be filed by maid agency in order to determine who broke the contract, who had been the one to ruin a relationship and bear the consequences.... through this method, FDW has no excuse to say she's a slave or she wasn't given a good employer.

During trial period, FDW to get pro-rated salary.  FDW's insurance should be in her name, whereby she'll finance from the day she steps into Spore and ends on the day she leaves.  The monthly insurance premium, benefits and terms will remain, regardless how many employers maid has been transferred.  This will reduce the admin work and chances for insurance company to make profit from short term FDW.

Trial may not be accurate because each household is different and the way Employer wants to run his/her household is different too.  Briefing of tasks are 'superficial' because the FDW is not trained for that house but better than not given a chance for them to live together, have a feel ..... try what's life living on high floors, hygiene level of FDW, etc.

When I set up this blog, I've email MOM this (before mandatory off day was announced):



How can employers retain the services of experienced maids? Would scrapping the maid levy and implementing a minimum wage scheme help?
Retain experienced maids by scrapping levy, Straits times, 18 Jul 2014
Why are experienced maids attracted to work in Hong Kong and Taiwan, with Singapore being among their least preferred destinations?

And why do we hear more accounts of maids in Singapore terminating their two-year contracts prematurely ("Call to cap maid recruitment fee paid by employers"; yesterday)?

Clearly, our maid industry needs a revamp.
Many maids prefer to work in Hong Kong and Taiwan because they can earn much higher wages in these places, where the levy is minimal or absent.

Those who have worked in Singapore and completed their two-year contracts are highly sought after in these places.

The Manpower Ministry should consider scrapping the maid levy, so that the tax currently paid by employers can form part of the maid's monthly wages.  It could also consider initiating a fair minimum wage scheme for maids, to attract the more experienced ones to come here.


Facebook comments:
Clarice Viola Pereira:  I think employers have to learn to give and take and same as the maid. Scrapping the maid levy so we can pay them more will help as they will feel motivated to work.


Luffy Cat:  I feel, the levy is unnecessary. It would be better for employers to send their maids (who are usually caregivers for our loved ones) for trainings/workshops, eg. elder care or infant care. That way, we are assured the maids are competent and the maids also can have a sense of fulfilment at their jobs, that they are given opportunities for professional development. That way, both parties may find a rewarding working relationship that just might add value to the job. And of course, minimum wage is a must.


Hardi Zuko: Scrap the levy as it is taxing the employer. Employer then can give higher pay to their helper. And higher pay can help motivates them. Also to all employers I seek your understanding, your helper are making a big sacrifice leaving their country & love ones to seek better opportunity. Do treat them as you'll like to be treated. They are also human like you & me. Treat them like how you'll treat another family member & remember whether you'll like it or not they are also part of your family. If they are happy working in a safe environment I'm sure your home & family are well taken care off. Sorry just my 2cents worth.


Jocelyn Horigan: dear employer's do it yourself so that you don't get headache rather than complaining so much for their levy does it.


Lim Jong: Govt sucks from every employee, levy, screening fee, license fee for a job, we all have PAP , Pay And Pay govt.


Runner Hunter: Summary:
Changed at least 3 maids until I find a good indo helper recently. Went thru many stress during the changes. Engaging maid not meant for luxury. It's to lighten work load, help to take care the baby and old folk. Maid attitude change a lot nowadays. MOM imposed many policies to curb employer. Certain policies is not fair. MOM always sided the maid and they can't do anything if the maid went errornous. Seek help and discussed with MOM our plight but cant do anything esp the maid didn't fulfill their 2 years contract and went back to agency or their country. Employer have to paid for new maid and it's very expensive. Not all problem lies on employer but the maids quality are very very bad. Given off day and find bf or work part time. Get influence so easily that they changed attitude and sometime knows how to "kain". Maids went thru check up but wo spotted them pregnant. MOM charge you levy and gov wanted you to have more baby. They also wanted all parent and old folks to work so nobody at home to take care the infant and children. 1 minister tell you not to engage maid just like him but never realise that we commoner are not as rich as him. Btw maybe this minister can survey how many minister or MP can be like him going wo maid? Gov didn't know the cost of living is high so more parent needs to work to survive. Wanted you to spend quality time with kid but wanted you to settle the chore, heavy school work, cooking and play together in 1 or 2 days per week? This is the type of relentlessly tiring lifestyle we Singaporean are having? Poor Singaporean.


Michelle Lau: I believe that increasing the FDW's remuneration would contribute greatly to our efforts as employees to retain them. I would propose a reduction in the amount of the maid levy and perhaps converting it to a semi-annual or annual payment. This would also help to reduce the associated administrative costs for the MOM (a side benefit). The savings from the reduction in the levy would give employers more bandwidth to increase the FDW's monthly salary and bonuses.


Cheng Liew: Stop protecting the FDW. Think for us- employers! Stop the numbers of transfers knowable to max 2 times upon arrival and problems will be solved. Nothing to do with levy! The amount we pay to FDW now is already a huge pay package when it is converted to their currencies.


Qubeley Tan: Haiz. So many people are calling for homes to do without maids, I wonder how much does the Philippines economy depend on maids working overseas?


Gutierrez Bobot:Y singling out Philippines? Singapore isn't d only country in d world tht we..filipinos can make out a living! We hve values n perseverant n dedicated to a job..ths why we're in demand in any skills..n were proficient in english languange too,,!


Faith Sudharman-Chan: Channel the maid levy to their pay. At the moment employers already bleeding from paying for all the fees & paperwork


Call to cap maid recruitment fee paid by employers, The Straits Times
The biggest maid agent association here has submitted a proposal to the Government to cap the fees that employers pay on behalf of their maids, to stop agents from jacking up fees.  The Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEAS) is calling for this fee - which can be as high as $4,000 - to be capped at around $1,000 instead.

As maids usually cannot afford the fee, employers "lend" them the money, getting the money back through deductions from the maids' salaries. The women can thus go without pay for up to nine months or take home as little as $10 to $20 each month.

The high fees have caused maids to run away. Bosses suffer too, said Ms K. Jayaprema, president of the AEAS, who sent the proposal to the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Monday.  Some employers do not get any refund for the money they pay on behalf of the maids when the women quit. "There are contracts which state that employers will not get any money back if their maid is transferred to a new boss within two or three months," she said.

Under current legislation, maid agents here can charge workers recruitment fees of only up to two months of their salaries - maids earn about $500 a month.  But some Singapore agents collude with overseas recruiters to collect more than what is allowed here, said Ms Jayaprema. The proposal aims to improve the current law by spelling out that employers should not pay more than a certain sum to agents on behalf of maids.
A lack of records also makes the current rule hard to enforce.

"Some Singapore agents are earning four or more months of the maids' salaries," said Ms Jayaprema. "But we can't prove it because the money goes into overseas bank accounts or there is no paper trail," she said.
But this can be addressed if maids take loans from foreign banks and pay monthly. "MOM will be able to see how much the maids are paying and to whom," she added.

The AEAS suggests that the MOM work with foreign countries to set up loan schemes with overseas financial institutions.  When contacted, the MOM said it is reviewing the recommendations by the AEAS and that it takes a strong stance against maids being overcharged in fees. In the past two years, 10 agents were each fined $2,500 or $3,000 for charging excessive fees.

Maid agents interviewed by The Straits Times welcomed the proposal but said that, if it is adopted, employers will likely have to pay a higher service fee to maid agents. This may rise from around $400 to $1,000 now to about $2,000.  "Right now, maid agents are passing on most of the cost to the maids and charging employers low fees. They will have to balance the cost out more," said Ms Shirley Ng, owner of Orange Employment Agency.


==========================
Written by Eugene Lim, TRS reader 

I refer to the article by Ms Choo here: EMPLOYERS OF MAIDS ALSO NEED PROTECTION

I believe that many of the readers understand your plight and the issue of protection against employers has been lobbying around administration of government without any result for many years.

There are many underlining problem pertaining to this issue that your local agencies just can’t put to words and government agencies unwilling or simply refuses to address them. Hence allow me to explain to you and all the other reader the hindrance that government of employing countries that they face, which includes our Singapore government.


1.       Double Standard - Philippines
Maids from Philippines to overseas are deployed under their Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). Which means the employer must pay a minimum wages of USD$400 per month with a day off each week. With the success of these deployments to Hong Kong (Maid), Taiwan (Maid) and Japan (Prostitutes), the Philippine government had been aggressively marketing this concept to all other countries and in many ways forcing them with an ultimatum. The POEA was market under the cover of human right protection to the workers and they promote those few countries as a showcase as an example for other countries to follow. However, they conveniently forgot to inform all the countries they pushing to implement the POEA, is that these workers going to these “prime” countries will have to pay for all expenses. All expenses includes air-ticket, medical examination, training, agency fee in the Philippines, government administration fees, tax, interest and commission for the agencies from the employer’s country.  Hence, employers are not required to pay anything to get the workers. Hong Kong would cost the workers about $3,000, Taiwan would cost them about RM3,550 and Japan a whopping $7,400.

Philippines had been playing double standard towards all other countries and lying to all the government they push, with a face palm. Which means the cost of deployment would be force solely on to employers. While the workers still would have to pay something but not pay such a hefty sum. This is also the main reason why Singapore government refuses to co-cooperate on the POEA and they find it extremely unfair toward Singaporean and employer of this double standard. In fact, majority of the countries do not support POEA, many countries would advise the worker to travel to their country under social visit so these workers do not have to pay bondage.


2.       Indonesia
Majority of the cost of deployment is not the cost of maid but the cost of acquiring such bio-data. The system in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia is somewhat the same, since these market were all established by Malaysian and Singaporean agencies for their countrymen.

Each local agency in Indonesia will pay a middle man that is task for a selected region. The middle-man would than task it to individual that would travel, kampong to kampong. Once these maids are collected, the main hub agency would then throw in a $500 cash given to the maid’s family and another $1,500 per maid as their profit.

As you can see, the cost of deployment is mainly due to the cost of agencies in their country. These countries enjoy their GDP with the deployment of these maids. Without a proper tax system, this is the only viable way their country can make money from their citizens. So how to protect workers when the maid was not the actual individual that results in such cost, it is all the middle-man and agencies that are owned by cronies are making the kill.

We must not forget that local agencies in Singapore face one bigger problems when comes to acquire maids. Many overseas agencies are indebted financially to local agencies. It is expected that sooner or later these debt will be written off. So local agencies would have to put that “future debt” in to consideration which means increase cost for employer. Understand there is no legal avenue that provides assurance to local agency being able to collect such debt. This is part of the problem, part of the cost and agencies perform as middle-man, they would not be place in a position to bare all risk. Local agency earn about mere $800 per maid. They will also have to bare cost of return maid whom is unfit or fail the Singapore test.

So the answer to your question whether the government or authorities can do anything to protect employers, well………there is nothing. My only suggestion is to employ local Care-Taker or nurse, if looking after your disable father is the main reasons because if you would average the cost out, it might be even cheaper in the long run. Many employers had that pre-text but they actually need the maid more for housework, cooking and other stuff, that is why they feel they can’t employ nurse or caretaker.

Hope that helps you understands.


==========================
Copied from MJ's Facebook.  Sorry no hyperlink or print screen as images take up too much memory.  

She E. Fajardo:  I just want to share this feedback from MOM regarding for my salary deduction. And I already discuss it to sir jat a couple of month ago if I'm not mistaken. I went here as a tourist visa and through an agent here in Singapore. So my agency charged me 3870$ which I need to pay for 7 mos. Plus 160$ on my 8th mos. My salary is 480$ plus 50$ for my off day working. So I call and ask to MOM if there is any legal action that I can do to stop or just to lessen my salary deduction. And they told me that they are not in control about the commission that the agency will charging to the fdw. And I tried again to send a feedback to the MOM through an email and this is what MOM replied"
Employment agencies in Singapore may only charge a foreign employee up to 2 months of their salary. However, a foreign domestic worker(FDW) would usually need to take up a loan to pay for expenses in their country related to their employment in Singapore. As the FDW is unable to afford the cost of loans, the employer will usually pay upfront for the FDW's loans and the domestic worker will repay the employer. You might like to clarify with your agent for more information on this matter."

This is really unfair right? Because all I know, employer must pay all the expenses to hire a maid.


Mahal Jat:  If you did not sign any loan papers then you can reply to MOM to complain and ask them to register a formal complaint against the agency to investigate your claim.


Maricar Lacasandile: if the agency deduct her expenses in her country 7mos salary deduction is too much.


Mitch M. Pasaway: Before your employer will bring you home the agent will discussed you about this salary loan or salary deduction which your employer will deduct it from your monthly salary, and they even asked both of you to signed on it, employer and you,so you cannot make complaint anymore as you signed on it that shows that you understand and agreed on it,but the agents charge you too much,i've heard this kinds of deduction from you only.
As mom advised to you sis you can try to ask your agents but I don't think they will give you right answer maybe you just get scolded from them hehehe you know some agency if you already paid your salary loans they just ignored you.


She E. Fajardo: Yeah I know. But I'm just working here for only 4 mos. So maybe I will try to call again to the MOM and give some alert regarding this matter. Jeje. Try and try


Mitch M. Pasaway: My only advice to you sis don't just anyhow complain to mom without proper evidences or else you may lead yourself in jail, they gave their feedback already, so why you wanna call them again and ask for the same question or inquiries? Mom got a lots of things to do also.


Princess Khate Fabillar:  we are in same sitiution miss....
but i never do ask or claim to them coz im a first timer....
i never do sign anything except the contract paper...n agent told me that she will deduct 7months salary for processing of the paper n the plane ticket since i come here as tourist....i tot we are same agency;stricker agency, im i right?????


Mitch M. Pasaway: Yes that is the contract paper Sis which stated your salary loan and payment agreement that montly deducted from your salary.


Princess Khate Fabillar: ohhhhh i see...but she never allow me to read it thas y i dont know...hehehe


Mitch M. Pasaway: Hahaha is it Sis?why they never allow you to read it? They should let the applicants read it first before sign it and if they forget to tell we can ask them if we can read what is the contents to make it sure we understand it before we sign.


Tina Pai: MOM says 2months salary deduction only... That's too much i think... And they have the control about it as what i have learn during our seminar..., right????
I am a first timer also... I have 2 months salary deduction plus $110 the third month... I have finished my salary deduction already and having my full salary monthly... Have you attended MOM seminar?


She E. Fajardo: Dats y I wonder y MOM can't do anything for this practices of agencies..


Tina Pai: They were right actually sis if you have agency in philippines... But you only got the agency here, right???? So it must be 2months only because that's under their law... As far as i know, that law is applicable here in Singapore agency...and if you have agency in Phil. that requires you that big amount of deduction, they can't do anything about it... Have you told them that you came as a tourist here?


Rowena Tabula: Mostly.. agency wont allow the fdw to read their contract they just ask u to sign it..just like me before..im a 1st tymer here also 1yr..n i pay 2500..bcoz its my 1stym im just following the flow of the river hehe its good my current employer is good..!agencies dont care the fdw's feeling as long as they can get money from you...!sorry to say this but its true..!tsk..tsk..!


Tina Pai: .. And all you want now is to stop your sAlary deduction, right? I feel pity for you and i wanted to help you because i do understand what you feel now sis... And i knew how difficult life is going on back home... Just pray and do some actions as well...


She E. Fajardo: Thank u. Yeah I just want to stop it, but how? Actually my employer have tried to talk to the MOM and ask my status but we got the same answer from MOM. So I don't think there will still a remedy for it.


Shen Rajshen: The only remedy is to file a NLRC claim against your sg.agency and pinas agency. If your employer will cooperate ask them to register you for POEA and OWWA for record's via Phil. Embassy inquire about your issue. Not in MOM since you came as tourist and not worker.


Mahal Jat: sorry po, been bit busy, Inbox me tomorrow, I will help you in drafting a good response to MOM that puts the ball in their court and we will CC that email to Minister of MOM, PM of Sg, President of Pinas and Under Secretary of POEA he he he.  (Winter:  MJ is the owner of this Facebook page.  He proclaimed himself as an Indian expat employer.. means foreign talent)

Shen Rajshen: If an agent teach and escort you what you have to do. Your case is a kind of human trafficking. And you can file a complain against that agent and I'm your agent is not alone to do your paper. Report it at Phil.embassy for record and file a.complain.


Winter:  My FDWs said the same thing, maid agencies did not translate nor allow them to read the Spore contract before signing.  When I told them about the home leave, off day and accommodation practice, they gave me the look like I was lying or that was the first time they came to know about such employment terms.  Since FDWs have so much time sitting in the agencies, how come they were not given the chance to read thoroughly and ask questions before signing... before they are interviewed?  Why it becomes employer's fault for not keeping FDW aware?  

It is maid agencies' duty to explain and translate the content of the local contract to FDWs.  I know maid agencies just want to get things done fast ... I wasn't allowed to read the contract slowly .... agent gave me the impatient look or 'gently reminded' me where to 'jump over' and sign.

Read: Pay more maid agency fee
Facebook - Net savvy maid
Maid terminated contract without any penalty
Do you really need to employ a maid?
Who earns lesser than FDWs?


Employers' top three peeves about their maids, Mypaper, 16 June 2014
Bringing boyfriends home, stealing and hitting the children are the top three complaints employers make about their maids, major agencies here told The Straits Times.

These complaints are lodged with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), which receives an average of about 200 complaints a month, a spokesman said yesterday, in response to queries.

The figure represents less than 0.1 per cent of the 214,500 maids here as of December, MOM said.  The ministry has been collecting feedback on maids since 2010 to help employers make more informed hiring decisions.

Complaints against a maid may be flagged to prospective employers when they apply for a work pass for a maid on the MOM online work-permit system.  They have to sign a letter to confirm that they know of the complaint if they decide to hire the maid.

Prospective employers will not be told the nature of the complaint, but can call the maid's previous boss for details. About half of them leave phone numbers.  

Agents say most maids with a complaint against them are not hired here again. Orange Employment agency owner Shirley Ng said: "They won't get a second chance to work in Singapore."  Best Home Employment agency owner Tay Khoon Beng said: "Most employers won't even call the previous employer to find out more. They just say no."


Employment agencies must do more to improve quality of maids, training
16 April 2014, TODAY Voices

I agree with the letter “Maid agencies must ensure maids are fit to work here” (April 15) and would add that they must make sure the maids are a good match with employers.

Regrettably, agencies are not doing much besides adding costs to maid employment. For example, for the S$1,000 fee I have paid to one agency, the training provided is sub-standard. Employment agencies represent the first point of contact with the maids for employers, but are hardly involved in the interview or matching process. They earn fees by rubber-stamping the employment process.

Not only has the quality of maids we are getting deteriorated, agencies have also reduced the replacement guarantee period from 12 months to six. They should be representing the interests of employers.


No one represents the employers, who face all the negative consequences of employing maids. The Ministry of Manpower should make employment agencies work for their fees and be responsible in their dealings.


Maid agencies must ensure maids are fit to work here, TODAY, 15 April 2014
I read with disappointment and sadness that a foreign domestic worker has been charged with the murder of her employer. (“Parents of maid charged with murder to travel to S’pore to assist in probe”; April 11)

Maid agencies in Singapore have a duty to ensure that all maids are physically and mentally fit, as well as trained, before they work here. Their ages should also be verified as there have been reports of maids who are younger than the age stated in their passport.


If not, more of such crimes would surely recur.


Give more protection to maid employers, ST Forum, Jan 2013

While various regulations have been imposed on employers to protect maids, the same has not been done to help and protect the bosses ("MOM tightens rules on maid changes"; Jan 4).

The quality of maids in Singapore has deteriorated over the years.
Maids and agents provide inaccurate information in their biodata to make the maids seem more attractive to employers. Also, training by agencies is not regulated and standards are inconsistent.
Maids often do not have the skills they claim to have, and are not mentally prepared for the job.

And employers do not have an independent way of verifying the information received from maid agencies, especially when it relates to foreign embassies' requirements.
Employers are often left with little choice but to either stick with the maid, even if she is not up to standard, or go through the hassle of finding a replacement.

With more maids coming from rural and undeveloped parts of their countries, the Manpower Ministry and maid agencies have to play a bigger part to ensure the quality of maids.
Maid levies, which leave employers with less room to pay higher salaries, should be abolished. Training needs to be regulated and a proper grading system put in place.
A centralised website and database should also be set up so employers can check on the regulations implemented by foreign embassies, as well as verify the maids' biodata. Information on transfer maids should also be recorded.

Employers should be given avenues for recourse when maids misrepresent themselves, including the right to seek a full refund for amounts paid when no replacement maid is suitable.

Lim Wan Keng (Ms)


Middleman's cosy advantage: Hold agencies liable for maid failures too, ST Forum, Oct 2012
Having been through no less than five maid agencies myself in the last one year, I fully agree with Madam Rosamund Loh's observation that maid agencies think their duty to employers ends once they have secured them a maid ("Rules favour errant maids and penalise employers"; Tuesday).

The reason for this is the financial gain they stand to make when a maid does not pan out. Not only do they receive fresh placement fees from the employer, if these have not been built into the agency agreement, but they also receive a fee from the maid again. This is because every time a maid seeks a new job, she has to pay a fee to the agency. This ranges from $500 to a few months' salary.

One maid I talked to had already paid her agency $1,500 for the three jobs she had been placed in over six months. Each time, she was required to take care of an infant by her employers, for which she had no experience or skills.

The Ministry of Manpower must introduce a rule requiring agencies to bear the cost of finding both employers and maids at least three fresh matches for the first six months.
This will ensure that agencies take the pains to find out the abilities of the maid and the needs of the household fully before making a placement.

Maid agencies need to earn their money fairly and not see themselves as fast revenue generators.

Myrna Thomas (Ms)


Rules favour errant maids and penalise employers,  ST Forum
 I DO not understand why employers must bear responsibility for the folly of maids ('Stop them from running away for trivial reasons' by Mrs Padmini Kesavapany, and 'Hiking maids' pay unfair, misleading' by Ms Alice Cheah; both Feb 24).

If maids run away because of homesickness, loss of interest in work or their heavy workload, employers have to go through the frustrating process of hiring another maid and risk losing the security bond. What is worse is employers have to pay for their workers' airfare home, even if they had worked for only a day. If the maids were to get pregnant and have to be repatriated, their employers must also bear the costs. I am sure many employers share the sentiment that maid agencies do not really care about their welfare and that their duty to them ends when they have secured them maids. Maids can ask for transfers and employers are made to pay.


Facebook Comments:
* completely agree with this. The maids are too protected by the govt, until the employers are liable for whatever their mistake is.  The govt needs to relook into this issue again, at least to have an even ground for the employers and the maids.


* Yes, i agree very much... employers of FDW has been taken for granted for quite awhile...


* The maids are over protected until they abuse the system and take advantage of the employers. They should use the same law as other work permit holders. Employers should not be liable for their employees' actions. Once this is done, employers will gladly give them off days. It's becoZ the employers are made liable for everything and anything abt their maids, that's why they control their maids so much.


* It's damn unfair to us employers. The agencies charge exhorbitant fees and raise the so called min wages but do not make the effort to give quality maids.


* Govt is over protecting the maid, yeah, there are good ones but what about the bad ones? I think that govt should allow employer to withold 3 months of the maid salary in case things like this happens & return the salary when the 2 yrs contract ends. Some maids come here for other motives. And since maid agencies charge 7 months salary, shouldn't they bear 50% of the cost for transfer or air ticket? Govt should be stricter with maid agencies too on ensuring quality maid are supplied.


* The bad maids do not know how to cook fairly well, no learning spirits, demand increase in wages when they saw the news despite being so beyond terrible in work & etc etc.  My family would gladly pay well for a decent maid.  If you suck at work, you should improve at it.  Besides the bad maids are spreading rumors about their employers to the new maids.


* Very simple - like any employer/employee working relationship, if you good, company will not sack you. If your performance bad, you have to go without compensation. Co. do not pay you air ticket to go home( not to mention a mrt fare on your last day!!!) so why should employer bare all the cost when the maid pewrformance is BAD!???
My experience is my maid brought home her Bangladesh boyfriend when I'm not around...is this acceptable? I later found out the the reason she came to work here is to be with her BF which she known from previously working here. Then I have to pay her air fare, lose on insurance & pay maid agency fee again to get a new maid! NOT FAIR AT ALL!!! but if employer allowed to withold 3 months salary, all these will be paid for.



Extracted from here. by Mummy May 
23 July - I feel relieved. Really. After 7 months of being with the first helper, Emily and 2 weeks with the second helper, Michelle, I am maid-less for the first time. The feeling is liberating. At least for the next 4 days before the 3rd helper arrives.

Having a helper is like having an extra pair of hands at home. It is useful when the kids poop or when they vomit. At the same time, you have to deal with living with a stranger in your house-having manage her habits and behaviour.

The first day when we brought Emily back home, I could not sleep that night. I tossed and turned in bed. My heart could not rest. All I could think of was that there was a stranger at home. It was a weird and uncomfortable feeling. Over the weeks and months, we got used to her presence and appreciated having the help- doing the dishes, ironing the many work clothes. Emily was competent but she also had her moods. Towards the end of our second month, she wanted out, claiming that she could not manage handling two kids. I did not ask her to stay as I did not like her inconsistent temperament- I could never tell if she was in a good mood or not. She also had weekly headaches/migraines. The first few weeks when she was with us, she actually requested to take afternoon naps. Family members who did not need to face her most of the time would think that she was a good helper. However, to the people interacted with her 90% the time, they will know other wise. At the end of her 7th month, she left.

Her replacement was Michelle, a 26 year old lady. When I interviewed her over the phone, she sounded polite. It was a relatively positive impression. She agreed on my no-handphone terms and I naively thought it was because she was very simple village-type of girl. I checked with her and her resume, she was able to cook, clean and wash. To my horror, she fell way below my expectations. She could not cook at all. Her cleaning was terrible- like she used the same one cloth to clean everything. Her ironing was equally bad. The shirts that she ironed often have lines and creases. In fact, when we picked her up from the agency, her fake Louis Vuitton bag should be a dead give-away. Her actions indicated that she knew nothing about household chores. I actually saw her washing the toilet bowl with the brush while there were toilet paper in it!

After training her for first two days, I cried to E. She was sloth slow- like incredibly slow in doing any sort of household chore. Despite the lack of speed, the work was slip-shod and I would have to do it for her. For example, after cleaning Ryan’s vomit, I could still see vomit on the floor that she did not see! E and I just thought we should give her more time, perhaps to get used to Singapore and our level of hygiene. She is the opposite of Emily who eats 5kg of rice every 2 weeks. Michelle eats real little, even lesser than me because she claimed that she is on diet. (Like seriously! What for? Is she trying to be my diet buddy?)

Last Friday, I found out that she told multiple lies- she had a handphone, a prepaid card (for calling, texting and surfing the net), took photos of Baby Gillian and there were also pictures of herself in her ex – employer’s home. We warned her and she apologised and promised to be honest to us. Last night, E found out that she has been secretly using my Nexus to surf the internet. I was so upset that I could not speak. In fact, I threw up the Chocolate Exotic cake that I had for dessert. (Yes, when I literally vomit when I feel upset/disgusted. Ryan takes after me.) I went to check her Facebook and realised that she complained to her friends in Filipino about me being a Nazi on cleanliness and that I kept asking her to eat so she could have strength to work! I used Google translate to find all these out. And yes, she has photos of her acting sexy and cute on Facebook as well. In fact, I would not be surprised if she is reading my blog at this point at the agent’s house. While she is clueless about housework, she is one tech-savvy person!

This morning, when I checked her belongings, I found that she has hidden money in the pocket of her jeans. (And I also found a used and unused pregnancy test kit!) So other lying, being slow, lazy and unhygienic, she is a thief! Wow wow!

It was a sleepless night again. How could I leave my 2 young kids with Michelle? I cannot trust her at all. She is really incompetent. And she is a thief! In the end, E and I had to make the decision of letting her go. If she capable of such actions in 2 weeks, who knows what she would be capable of in 2 months? She might sell my branded bags away! So good luck to the next person who gets her as a helper! It is like playing Russian Roulette. On hindsight, I would have asked Emily to stay. At least, her work standard quite ok. Michelle is my nightmare come true. Despite all these, there is light/rainbow for every bad situation. Mine was in the form of weight loss. In the 2 weeks that she was with us, I lost 1.5kg. Just 2 weeks ago, I was 55kg! I am now 53.5kg(Actually I weigh 53.5kg in the morning and 54kg in the evening.)

Getting a competent and honest helper is akin to striking lottery. For the third helper, we are offering better terms- higher pay, more off days and also allow the usage of the handphone at night. E says if we pay peanuts, we will get monkey helpers. So hopefully, with better conditions, the next helper will be a true helper for the family. These 4 days, it will be a challenge for especially me. It will be a period when I embark on a SAHM without helper. There will be loads of things to do- washing, cleaning, cooking, entertaining Ryan, breastfeeding Baby Gillian. Steep learning curve but we will survive. Maybe I might lose more weight from these 4 days! Free weight loss boot camp!


Hiring a domestic helper…November 2012, Mummy May
For the past few weeks, E and I have been busy looking for a domestic helper. Because of our personalities and our work commitments, it is almost impossible that anyone is interested in doing any household chores after work. Currently, we are just hiring a part time helper who comes in every weekend, clocking around 5-6 hours each time.

Initially, like many couples and families, we were very resistant towards the getting a domestic helper because it will mean lesser privacy in the family, possibility of dealing with unwanted and unnecessary maid issues and maybe increasing costs. With the impending birth of Mei Mei in April, it has finally come to a point whereby we definitely need an extra pair of hands to help around at home to help out with the increasing household duties and caring for the kiddos. We decided that if we are able to get a helper by December instead of March will be good because I will have time to train her and she can also use these few months to acclaimatise to our home and her responsibilities.

This is our third attempt in trying to get a domestic help. The first time was before the birth of Baby Ryan. The second time was before I returned to work after the birth of Baby Ryan. For both times, we ended up backing out in the decision because we could not give up our privacy plus our apartment then(Telok Kurau) was really small. Apparently, third’s a charm.

We spent a good 3-4 weeks looking for a domestic help. Yes, it was not easy. Not when you are pregnant with Number 2. Not when the weather is scorching hot these days. We sacrificed Ryan’s play weekends, scouring Katong Shopping Centre and Roxy Square.

We started off thinking that we wanted a Myanmese helper. Myanmese helper’s salaries are pegged at $420-$450 in the current market at Katong Shopping Centre, compared to the Indonesians’ at $450-$500 and Filipinos at $500-$550. Myanmese helpers also do not request for off days and they do not have mobile phones. So, these are push factors for me. However, the agents did remind us that the Myanmese helpers are weak in the command of English and are slower than their counterparts. In the end, E convinced me that the challenges outweigh the positives. In the end, it was down to getting a Filipino helper.

E made me go back to one of the maid agencies that he trusted. In fact, it was our third visit there. The first time, he recommended us a transfer Filipino helper and used to work for Korean families. We were quite interested in getting her because she apparently could cook a wide variety of Korean dishes and we did like Korean food a lot. When we interviewed her further (with our mothers), we found out that the last time she returned to the Philippines was to deliver a baby. Yes, so the story was that there was something going on between her and the security guard of the condominium she stayed in.

*sigh* Of course, the woman was the victim- she was the one who had to return to the Philippines and now have a baby to provide for. We were sympathetic but reserved about her once we found out that she and her ex boyfriend were still in contact. (It would be quite troublesome if Number 2 comes out when we were employing her….). After hearing the story, my mother was less enthusiastic of having a domestic helper helping her. So, thus, the maid plans were shelved.

The second time, when we once again decided to get a dometic help, E went back to the same agency. The owner recommended us a transfer maid again. The helper told us that her owner sent her back to the agency after 2 weeks and there was no reason given. She suspect it could be possibly because the older maid in the house gossiped and bad mouthed her. Hmm… she did look very sincere but there were too many loophopes in her story. The thing is that when you are selecting a domestic helper and having a total stranger living with your family with young babies, there is really very little room for sympathy and sad stories. This may sound harsh but I really prioritise my family safety above all true/sad/believable stories. In the end, we shelved our maid’s plans yet again because my mother told me that she will try to manage handling Ryan herself.

The third time, we interviewed 3 transfer maid at his office (I really have no idea why his office have that many transfer maids). They have the usual sad stories of their bosses mistreating them, not giving them their salaries for 1.5 years and there is even one who made her work at her shop (it was found out and she had to leave her boss). Because it was my third time there, I was starting to feel rather dubious about the whole thing. Of course, the stories could be true and everything but I just did not feel that it was right.

I complained to my parents about the whole thing and there was one weekend evening when I broke down because I was so exhausted from the maid hunting and my pregnancy hormones were running amok again. My dad reminded me to ask his Filipino tenant, Francis about his maid’s lobang and I called Francis the next day and he was so helpful. He told me to never get transfer maid (of course, that is his personal opinion and I am taking his advice because it sounds reasonable to me). He gave me the contacts and I found our that his deal was much cheaper/affordable that what we looked for in East Coast. We went to the office that evening and we selected our helper in a week’s time. In fact, we interviewed her via Skype as she was in the Philippines. Okay… when we were video conferencing, the applicant did say that I looked pretty. Awwww….smarto! But that was not one of those things that made me hire her. From our interview and the resume, she sounded okay (not psycho) and experienced. Right now, the office is still processing our application but my mind is partially at peace. I am using the word “partially” because the processing is taking longer than what I expect.

Right now, we are crossing our fingers and hoping that the helper will be someone efficient, helpful and kind. In the mean time, I am trying to do up a schedule for her, along with some guidelines. If you know the line of work I am in, you will understand why I will feel more at ease when there is structure for my helper to follow. Heehee.
.... by Mummy May


Winter: Is it really easy to manage a live-in maid?  No.
It is because we have high expectation or we, employers are trying to making things extremely difficult for the FDWs?  No.

It is the way maids behave.... poor working attitude, bad mentality, truly no heart to work, not interested to do a proper domestic job....  Lied and lie again just to get themselves off scrutiny.   Simple instruction to clean the house, demonstrated but FDW just want a job that she can laze and expects employers to close 2 eyes or do her job but get paid on time! 

We don't deserve to be taken advantage ... if MOM and activists can stop being so unfair, siding and protecting maids with sickening policies... life won't be so miserable for me and other victim-employers.


Clamp down on errant maid agents, Straits Times Forum - 5 Sep 2012
I AGREE with Ms Tan Lee Lin ("Potentially cheaper way to hire maids"; Aug 28) that employers should source maids directly from their home countries.

This is not just a question of saving money. We hire agents because we wish to protect ourselves against the risk of the unknown, or have something to fall back on should things go wrong.

It has become extremely easy to hire maids, with most of the paperwork available online. So the agent is now more of a liaison and mediator. However, many of them perform below expectations.

Agents are entrusted with sourcing and training maids. They have to ensure that what employers see is what they get. Sadly, there have been many instances where maids' biodata contain false information about their skills, ages and work experience.

There is no way for employers to verify the information. When we find out the truth, it is often too late - the agent has already collected his dues and washed his hands of the whole affair, claiming ignorance.

Agents are supposedly intermediaries between maids and their employers in case of disputes, or if the maid suddenly decides to terminate her employment. However, the helpless employer is forced to dole out the agency and documentation fees all over again, with no help or recourse available.

An employer even has to pay for the maid's lodging and levy, while she waits at the agency for a suitable job.  The problem has now escalated, and the number of agencies dealing with only transfer maids has burgeoned.

It serves the agent's purpose to encourage a faster turnaround, as he gets his share of the transfer fees from the maid, and also pockets the agency fees from every subsequent employer.
Maids keep fishing for "better" prospects with no thought to their contractual obligations, and it is the employer who stands to lose, with nowhere to turn to.

In view of the growing emphasis on family-friendly practices in Singapore, it is vital to address the childcare issue. With no reliable help, how can one even think about having more babies?

The issue of employers' rights has been raised several times in The Straits Times' Forum page, and the Manpower Ministry has promised to look into implementing steps to protect employers' interests.

However, in practice, nothing has been done. It is time for maids and agencies to be made more accountable, and for proper penalties and prohibitive measures to be put into place to protect employers.

Devi Asha (Mrs)


Potentially cheaper way to hire maids, ST Forum
There is another avenue to source for cheaper Indonesian maids, given the significant pay increase sought by the Indonesian government for its citizens ("Sharp spike in pay demands for Indonesian maids: Wrong families being squeezed" by Mr Lau Wee Cheng; last Wednesday).

I have just returned from the Indonesian city of Bandung. During my visit, I discovered that workers like drivers, salespersons and waiters earned an average of 1.3 million rupiah (S$170) a month. Despite official statistics, my anecdotal observations suggest that there are many people looking for work.

In Malaysia, Indonesian maids are paid RM400 (S$160) a month although there are attempts to raise the salary to RM700.  A resourceful employer can source Indonesian maids from Johor for the same rate because the cost savings are worth his while, given the fact that foreign maids in Singapore are paid about $500 a month.

After completing her contract in two years, she returns home to renew her papers and return to the employer via the same route.

Tan Lee Lin (Ms)


Wrong families being squeezed, ST Forum
The impact of the new pay demands for Indonesian maids will raise the cost of hiring a maid for many families ("Pay more for Indonesian maids from November"; Aug 13 and "Weekly day off for maids a must from next year"; March 6)

Families must pay at least $785 monthly to meet the minimum wage demand of the Indonesian government ($520 plus $265 maid levy). This is a substantial increase over the past years, especially for families who already have the additional burden of paying for young children's or elderly family members' other needs.

Families employing full-time caregivers to help look after their loved ones with disabilities are granted a lower monthly levy of $170 instead of $265. The Ministry of Manpower has been labelling the $170 a concession, when it is, in fact, an unnecessary additional cost for these families.

The ministry's rationale is that the levy serves to moderate demand for foreign maids and ensures that only employers who need and have the financial means to hire them are able to do so.

But if the ministry supports the Government call for encouraging couples to have more children and care for their elderly parents, the levy, regardless of the discount, will not serve the purpose.

If the demand for maids must be moderated, the ministry may have been focusing on the wrong group, because families looking after young children and elderly family members need maids more than any other group, regardless of financial capabilities.

Lau Wee Cheng

Comments:
* its all about MONEY. Its the Pay and Pay policy. Its all talk about having encouraging couples to have more children.
Can someone tell the gahmen to put their money where their mouth is.


* "The ministry's rationale is that the levy serves to moderate demand for foreign maids and ensures that only employers who need and have the financial means to hire them are able to do so."
This cannot be based on research and where did they pluck the figure of $265 and $170 from? Demand for foreign (or local) maids is very much based on needs (child & elderly minding) of course with the exception of some lazy adult buggers who want to be waited hands on foot.


* Certain things cannot always be compared to older generations. Technology and social systems have progressed forward and we should take advantage of.
Older generations do not have good milk bottles, bottle teats, diapers, rash cream, digital thermometers, playpen....just to name a few.

Certain sectors of the population do need maids at a affordable price, for the social structure of our society has been manipulated to create this need.
High cost of living/housing/medical (hence both parents need to work), intensive promotion of small family units (each owning a small flat), absent of large affordable flats suitable for large families.... just to name a few. To remove the need for maids, we must first re-structure the society.


* some good maids get mistreated and forced to work non stop..some bad maids take advantage of nice employers..and getting paid $500 SGD is a big income for those maids lucky enough to sustain employment here though it is thought to be equivalent to modern day slavery.


* We should do away with employing maids, from any country, for our long term good. But then, how can we solve the problem of childcare & elder care? The ball is at PAP's gate.


* The Indonesian government thinks that Singapore is rich and trying to squeeze as much $$$ from us as possible using maids as bargaining chips.
In my view, Sri Lanka maids are much more intelligence and hardworking than Indonesian maids. I think we should turn to Sri Lanka maids to turn the table against the Indonesia government on the hike.
SL maids are more unlikely to suffer depression and cause harm to employers and themselves.


Maids must first have right attitude and skills, 20 Nov 2013, TODAY Voices
I refer to Mr Raymond Fernando’s letter, “To prevent tragedy, provide better support for maids” (Nov 19). As a maid employer, my experience tells me that maids must have the right work attitude and skills.

Employers would want to treat their maids as guests.
But if they are not cut out to be maids and come here to try out employers, looking for the right environment, pay and family members, then who can employers go to?

Employers are also at their maid’s mercy and are vulnerable when maids are not in the right frame of mind.

Employers pay a monthly levy to the Manpower Ministry, so better support should be provided for both parties. Mr Fernando should check the domestic helper market and working conditions in the region to see if there are better support programmes for maids “to prevent tragedy”.



Pay FDW high salary does not equate to better performance. Employers who have learnt the hard way will know what I mean. They know that FDWs nowadays get much higher salary, better welfare and more people to pity them. Their quality had deteriorated, not worth the dollars and cents!  

If you feel that I am calculative, then I suggest you stop reading this site because what maids did and what I, as well others went thru won't bring your any happiness or achievement.   I believe it's better to pay an inexperienced live-in FDW a reasonable monthly salary of S$400 per month (or lower). The monthly levy that MOM made us paid can be considered as bonus. If the FDW successfully completed 23 months of service with her employer, will be getting a 2-year contract renewal, the levy that her employer has paid to MOM should be cashed out and become her bonus. Let's say $170 x 24 months = S$4080!! This will really motivate a FDW to provide good domestic service, childcare or eldercare and stick to one employer. It will also encourage FDWs to stay in Spore and not fly to Hong Kong or Taiwan. Usual re-contract is 10% salary increment.

Hope MOM encourages Spore agencies to bring in FDWs from new source countries such as rural/poor China provinces, Cambodia or Vietnam to stop embassies from making unreasonable demands. Home countries unwilling to provide high salary to their own people yet expect Spore employers to pay, ridiculous! 

Can MOM stop agencies from treating FDWs like commodities? Stop making employers look like ATM machines, bear all the risks & costs and allowed agencies to make huge profit from each FDW that was marketed? 

Allow DIY, provide a legal online website in each source country for employers to bring in FDWs without going through any agent? Can MOM allow FDW be housed in a boarding house and remove all liabilities lumped on my shoulder? I don't want to know what she does after working hours or on off days. Don't make me fully responsible for her bad behaviour and well-being, especially when she's not physically working in my house.

I don't know how long I can tolerate life living with FDW. Will I be able to endure till M finishes her loan? Will I live to see 明天会更好?

Felt nowadays, hiring a FDW is like killing myself slowly. If you have no sickness, you may end up with. I stopped my long-term medication but worry new FDW may trigger my illness. I feel like I'm a volcano going to erupt. 

Many years ago, before I became a FDW's employer, there are many University grads who accepted the position of Foreign Domestic Worker. Now, a lot are just Primary or Secondary level. Due to little education, they couldn't understand simple English, incapable of doing a proper job as per instructions/training. These FDWs merely came due to the high FDW demand. They flew here thinking FDW are easy jobs, paid high salary and the debts (maid loan) is every employer's responsibility. Maids thought they can get employers to share their wealth example indulge her with expensive mobile phone, fine dining, etc. 

When you hired a maid, the cost above will be even more if the person hired is having such mentality. The reason: you didn't meet her expectations, maid thought you've short-changed her entitlement so she wanted a transfer or runaway. 

Comparison - A maid’s salary: 
Dubai
Dh1400 to Dh2000 (S$500), with experience 
Dh1100 – Filipino with no experience. 
Expat offers DH2500 to 3000

Hong Kong 
HK$3920 (S$617), with experience 
Employers prefer those who've worked 2 years in Spore 
Given weekly off days and Public Holiday off 


Taiwan 
NT$15840 (S$665) , with experience 
Employers prefer those who've worked 2 years in Spore
Levy NT$5000 (S$200) 
Working on off days will be paid NT$528/off-day

Saudi 
US$210 (S$257) - Filipino with no experience 

Malaysia
RM$700 (S$350), no experience – one task recommended for this salary (Employers felt not workable)

Singapore 
S$450 to $500, NO experience, depends on nationality of FDW 
Mandatory weekly off days. Pay compensation for no-off based on 26 working days/month.  Most agencies contract stated at least $20 per day as no off day compensation.  Most Filipinos would prefer weekly or at least a monthly off. 

Expat offers about S$600 to $800 with juicy terms.  Expats tend to spolit the FDWs using their living standards in own country and Spore.