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Lift veil of secrecy over fees maids pay in home countries, Straits Times, 3 Nov 2016
While itemised bills for maid agency fees may offer some transparency, they do not solve the problem of overcharging by agents ("More transparency urged in agency fees for maids"; Sunday). This is because a large part of the fees comes from placement or loan amounts that are charged in the source country.
Already, all maid agencies in Singapore are tabulating and providing breakdowns for fees charged, as part of their due diligence. If the problem is to be solved, there need to be discussions with stakeholders in source countries.
Domestic workers come to our shores with hefty loans they have taken up at home to pay for their passage here. Many of them do not even know the amount they owe their agents at home, as these agents do not usually give official breakdowns of the amount they collect from the foreign domestic workers.
The workers are also not able to make their agents accountable for the amount paid. In view of this secrecy, domestic helpers can be better protected if the authorities in the source countries mandate a cap on the fees payable by domestic workers to the agents in the source countries.
However, we understand this is easier said than done. The issue cannot be resolved unilaterally.
For the time being, the relevant associations and agencies here may want to consider working with their stakeholders in the source countries to put in place best practices to ensure that the fees charged are fair and the amount made public.
Seah Seng Choon
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training
More transparency urged in agency fees for maids, Straits Times, 30 Oct 2016
Some employment agencies that recruit and place maids here charge them and their employers fees without specifying what exactly the fees cover. Two migrant worker groups are calling for greater transparency through the used of itemised bills, saying that it can go some way towards preventing overcharging.
The Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) said yesterday that it has been working with employment agency associations on a template of itemised bills, and proposed that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) include transparency among criteria for its future grading scheme for employment agencies.
Separately, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) is recommending, in a report being released this week, that Singapore should consider making it mandatory for employers, maids and agents both here and in the source country to sign a document setting out itemised expenses during recruitment and the terms for paying them. Maids should produce this document when applying for a work visa.
The non-governmental organisation found that while maids' placement fees have dropped in recent years, they usually still have almost five months of pay deducted to pay off the fees.
The researchers found that such salary deductions have fallen from an average of 7.2 months for women arriving in Singapore in 2010, to 4.7 months for those arriving last year.
The TWC2 report details the findings of a survey conducted in January and February of more than 230 maids from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and Bangladesh. In 2011, the MOM introduced a rule limiting the placement fees employment agencies can charge to a maximum of two months of a worker's salary.
Recruiters in the maids' home countries are also subject to local rules on such fees, which are about $650 in the Philippines and $1,400 in Indonesia, the report said.
But the survey found that more than 60 per cent of women who came from the Philippines in 2014 or later and more than 40 per cent of those who came from Indonesia were still over-paying. Myanmar workers surveyed tended to pay the most - an average of $2,721. Filipinas and Indonesian workers paid $2,231 and $2,476 on average respectively.
Meanwhile the CDE, which is run by the National Trades Union Congress, said it found through speaking with embassies, agencies and recruiters that the overall cost of recruiting a maid from Indonesia is normally about $3,800 to $5,800. This includes recruitment and training costs of $2,500 to $3,300. For Filipino maids, the overall cost usually ranges from $3,100 to $4,600, including recruitment and training costs of about $1,200 to $1,800.
The CDE said itemised bills will make it easier to determine if the costs are fair, if they should be reduced, and how best to share costs between employers and workers.
With greater transparency, "employers and (workers) would be able to make a more informed decision before they enter into an employment contract and disputes relating to it can also be reduced," it said. It proposed that the MOM include transparency of costs as one of the criteria in the Trustmark Grading Scheme for employment agencies that is expected to be launched in the second half of next year.
An MOM spokesman said the ministry has seen "very few cases" of maids being overcharged by local agencies, though MOM is not able to regulate the fees charged in workers' home countries. Employment agencies here have to issue maids a written and itemised receipt for all fees charged, including fees collected on behalf of overseas agents, the spokesman added.
The fees charged by the Singapore agent are also stated in the In-Principle Approval letter, which is in the native language of a prospective worker and sent to her before she leaves her country. There were some 237,100 foreign domestic workers here as of June.
MOM says incidence of underage maids low, Straits Times, 30 Oct 2016
Researchers from migrant worker group Transient Workers Count Too found four Myanmar workers under the legal minimum age of 23 here, during a survey on recruitment fees this year. Among the 232 women surveyed, 16 from Myanmar and 10 from Indonesia were under 23 when they first arrived.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said "the incidence of foreign domestic workers not meeting the minimum age requirement is low". MOM said it "takes a serious view" of underage maids and has measures to deter employment agents bringing them here.
These agents risk being penalised if they do not make sure entry requirements are adhered to, including that maids must be at least 23. Agents who flout the rule can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to six months. MOM added that it audits agencies regularly.
It also ensures that new maids are told of the minimum age requirement during a settling-in programme they must attend. MOM staff also interview women who look relatively young to verify their application details and age.
The women will not be penalised if they come forward, MOM said. It is also important for the authorities in workers' home countries to ensure passport details are accurate, the ministry added.
Revamp how maids are employed, ST Forum, 14 Sep 2016
Currently, we have a lose-lose situation when it comes to the employment of maids. Some agencies do not ensure that the maids they have are good ones. Employers must go through a lot of hassle to hire maids. And maids have little control over their jobs in Singapore.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has to deal with many maid employers unaccustomed to or unhappy with the regulations and administrative work.
I suggest changing this to a win-win situation. Make agencies the employers of maids, and households the clients of the agencies. In this system, agencies become accountable for what their workers do and will invest resources to screen problem hires and to better train maids. They can also get rapid feedback from clients regarding their workers.
Agency clients need to only sign a contract and pay a monthly fee to the agency - bypassing all the administrative work, such as levies and insurance.
If a maid is unwell or unavailable, the agency can send a replacement. Employers will no longer need to deal with the MOM, saving themselves and the Government lots of effort and resources.
Maids would also benefit from improvements in work conditions. They can have the option of living in a hostel. They can be covered by the Employment Act, enjoying basic rights such as public holidays and a minimum amount of paid leave each year. The risks of abuse, unauthorised salary deductions and being denied medical attention can also be greatly reduced.
I urge the Government to seriously consider my suggestion and revamp how maids are employed.
Eric Chen Yixiong
Extracted from forum:
Happy Home maid agency @ Lucky Plaza that specialized in Filipino transfer maids has unfair contractual practices for first time employers. The Filipino maid agent George C. Garcia has arranged for me to interview his potential pool of transfer Filipino maids on XX Aug 2015. During the interview in XX Aug 2015 George used hard selling and pressure selling tactics to pressure me to hire his Filipino transfer maids by stating that we have to make payment in cash and on the spot first in XX Aug2015 (without giving us to have a look at the terms and conditions of the employment contract) after we finished the interview session for the agency fees of $1000. He insisted that if we did not make payment for the agency fees on the spot on that day. If not, we cannot proceed to hire his transfer maid. Since we are urgently looking for a maid to take care my baby, we have to agree to this agent’s request.
When we have made the payment in cash for the agency fees, we also requested George that we want to look and have a copy of the employment contract with the maid agency in XX Aug 2015. However, George refused and insisted that he can only generate the employment contract for the maid only when we come to collect/ fetch the maid from the agency which is the date that the maid’s previous employer can release her and he only made my husband sign the terms and conditions of the contract on every pages on that day of collection when collecting the maid. We felt that this Happy Home maid agency is an irresponsible maid agency that is adopting unfair employment practices against me, the employer by insisting that we must pay the agency fees upfront first in XX August 2015 when I conducted the maid interview and then give me the employment contract with the terms and conditions at a later date (approx. 1 mth later) in Sep 2015 when I collected the maid.
We are only able to read the contents of the employment contract in XX Sep 2015 and we noted that the contents of terms and conditions of the contact are very biased to the employer as the Happy Home maid agency state that the employers can only terminate the services of the transfer maid after 90 days of the probation period from the official date which the maid starts her employment.
In addition to this, after the 90 days probation period, if the maid performance is below our expectation and her working attitude sucks, we can only inform this maid agency after the 90 days probation is over and also to give 1 month notice for the maid to look for a new employer to allow for transfer if the maid is unsuitable. If we do not wish to allow the maid to transfer, we will have to bear the cost of giving her to 2 months salary if we wish to send her back to Philippines directly. We felt that this contract is very unfair and biased towards the Singapore employers. I felt that many employers here had fallen prey to this unfair practices and I actually I lodge a complaint with MOM officer to inform them about the unfair of this Pinoy maid agency to highlight their unscrupulous and unfair practices as the agency who used hard selling tactics and have unfair terms and conditions in their employment contract which were not highlighted and the contract was not given to us before we made payment on the agency fees in August. But MOM officer does not wish to investigate further and ask me to settle dispute by lodging a case with CASE or Small Tribunal Court on this. I just want to highlight to all netizens about this irresponsible maid agency at Lucky Plaza. . Please do not use this maid agency services
Even today, 56-year-old Mr Lee Kai Yam still takes the lift from his fourth-floor home to the 16th floor nearly every night. He would stand for hours at the spot where his 12-year-old daughter Linda was flung to her death by the family's 16-year- old Indonesian maid in 2010. One thought would repeat in his head: How much fear did his daughter feel at that moment?
In 2012, the maid, Nurhayati, was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to 20 years in jail. But Mr Lee always maintained that the agency that supplied the underage maid should bear its share of responsibility. Yesterday, he and his 50-year-old wife finally got the apology they were fighting for. Mr Ong Kian Wah, a consultant of the now-defunct Maid Link agency, stood up in court and said: "We sincerely apologise for the loss of your daughter. We are also saddened by this incident. We hope you can forgive us and have peace in your heart." Beside him was his daughter Charmaine Ong Meiyi, who was sole proprietor of the firm.
The apology was part of the settlement agreed on by both parties. The Ongs will also pay the couple $50,000 over nine monthly instalments. But for Mr Lee, it was never about the money. "There are many families here who rely on maids to take care of their children," he told The Straits Times. "Agents must exercise due diligence in checking the age of maids and ensure they are capable enough to meet the needs of their employers."
Linda had scoliosis - a curved spine - and was slow in her speech and movement. Two weeks after Nurhayati started working for the family in October 2010, Mr Lee found that she did not have the maturity needed to care for Linda, despite documents listing her as being 24 years old. He went back to the agency to ask for her to be replaced. But Mr Ong told him she came from a poor family and needed the job. He pleaded with Mr Lee to give her a chance.
Out of sympathy, Mr Lee took her home again. Less than a week later, on the morning of Nov 24, when Mr Lee had left for work and while his wife was sleeping, Nurhayati carried Linda to the 16th floor of their block in Hougang. After Linda's death, he wrote to more than 20 lawyers. He wanted the agency to answer how a 16-year-old girl could have been passed off as a 24-year-old maid. Only one lawyer, Mr Chia Boon Teck, replied.
Mr Chia told The Straits Times he remembered reading about Mr Lee and called him down for an interview. When he decided to take on the case on a pro bono basis, he said Mr Lee broke down and cried. Yesterday, District Judge Koh Juay Kherng asked Mr Ong and his daughter if either was still running a maid agency, then reminded them about guidelines set by the Ministry of Manpower. "I hope that the guidelines are adhered to strictly in future. You might have no control over what happened, but if you had done what needed to be done, this incident may not have happened," he said.
Maids have to be at least 23 before they can work here. The Straits Times found that after Maid Link's licence was revoked in January 2011, Mr Ong moved to Maids and Manpower Agency in Katong Shopping Centre. He is now a shareholder of Pertama Employment Agency at the same mall. After addressing the Ongs, the judge turned to the couple and said: "The court offers its condolences as well, and hope that with this, you can move on to the next stage of your life."
It will not be easy. Mr Lee, a crane driver, told The Straits Times that Linda had brought him and his wife, a store cashier, so much joy when she was born. Their first child died of asthma when he was 15 months old. With their income of less than $3,000 a month, they lived a frugal life in order to give as much as they could to Linda. For instance, they bought a large LCD TV on hire purchase as she loved watching the children's show Hi-5. Said Mr Lee: "We can't bear to switch on the TV as it would remind us of Linda. "My wife still hides and cries in our bedroom."
Related links: She flung girl to her death to get back at employer
HOME: Singapore’s Employment Agencies Act stipulates that agencies are allowed to charge a maximum of two months salary as a fee to foreign workers entering Singapore, yet most workers end up with a debt that is much higher, either knowingly or unknowingly. Singaporean agencies justify charging higher fees by claiming it is not a debt but a loan, or by claiming that they are merely asking workers to pay off fees charged by agencies overseas, for which they have no responsibility.
Jessel is a domestic worker from the Philippines currently staying at the HOME shelter. She shares with us her story of her agent, who when she complained about having been deceived with a false contract, send Jessel a text message stating ‘I told you before my business is making money’.
‘Getting married at an early age is quite difficult. At 19, I gave birth to my eldest daughter, and the following year to my second. Life was hard with my husband having no permanent work. So I decided to apply for work abroad, in Singapore. Applying to work in another country takes time, money and patience. My first attempt failed and I had no choice but to stay with my family. I gave birth to my third and fourth child.
At that point, life got even harder. When my youngest son turned two I decided to apply again to work in Singapore. I had to pay six months of salary to the agent, but my employer let me pay small deductions every month. I was lucky, my employers were good people. I felt at home with them, even if I did not have any days off and they did not allow me a handphone. After two years, my contract finished, and I had to find another employer. I did not go home to take a vacation because I wanted to earn money. To transfer I had to pay two months of salary to the agent again.
My second employers were good people too. They treated me as family. When my mam gave birth, I felt like I was having a baby too. After a year and a half, I made a mistake that I regret badly. I decided to go back home. My mam wanted me to stay, and I am now very sorry she agreed to send me home.
Life back home was difficult, as I did not have any income and could not provide for my four kids. I felt so down. I applied for a job in Singapore again. Processing went very fast and after only one month I was back in Singapore. I was very shocked when the agent told me seven months of my salary were going to be deducted as an agent fee. I did not get to see my contract until I had been working for the new employer for three weeks already. By that time I had little choice but to sign it. I felt that I had been fooled. Why had they not told me this when I was still in my own country? They had said that because I had worked in Singapore before, I would be a direct hire and would only get four months of salary deductions, spread out over a longer period. I had trusted them to tell the truth. Another mistake.
This time, I had left for Singapore together with a friend, through the same agency. My friend’s contract stated she would pay four months of salary deductions, and that they were going to be spread out over ten months, just like we were promised. Me, I would not have any money to send home to my family for seven months.
I asked my agent, who had turned out to be my mam’s sister, why my loan was so much higher than my friends. The agent said my friend was different, but when I asked why, she would not answer me. Neither did she answer me when I asked to go home. When I told the agent I was very disappointed in her, she texted me back, saying: ‘I told you before my business is making money.’
I thought I was very strong. I thought I had patience. But now, I started to feel unhappy with my work. Every time my mam raised her voice to her kids, every time I even saw her, I felt nervous. I could not fight the thoughts anymore about my own kids, now I could not send them any money. If I can’t send any money to my kids, they will starve. I was worrying so much I could not work properly. I felt depressed. I wanted to go home. That is why I ran away .’
HOME has managed to negotiate a reduction of Jessel’s agency fee, and she is hoping to find a new employer soon. It is common for domestic workers to find upon arrival in Singapore that agent’s fees are higher than agreed. Since contracts are either substituted, or not signed until after they have arrived at their employer’s house, domestic workers find they have little choice but to accept the new conditions.
Singapore’s Employment Agencies Act stipulates that agencies are allowed to charge a maximum of two months salary as a fee to foreign workers entering Singapore, yet most workers end up with a debt that is much higher, either knowingly or unknowingly. Singaporean agencies justify charging higher fees by claiming it is not a debt but a loan, or by claiming that they are merely asking workers to pay off fees charged by agencies overseas, for which they have no responsibility.
The Philippines government regulations stipulate that domestic workers should not be charged any agency fee. By allowing agencies to charge up to 8 months salary, and more in some instances, the Singapore government has contravened its own laws and also violated the Philippine government’s regulations.
rhealyn alonzo: My agent also the same charged me 6mos deduction it was so unfair..this happening must pulished to news and let all the employers and agency knws about it..thank you.more power to your office.
Nixon Darlington Umblas: I have a lot of friends who are in the same predicament as Jessel have gone through. Talking to them, I’ve come to know that most of them do not know what to do with their unsatisfactory predicament. It’s nice to hear, an organization such as HOME is out there to readily extend some support and help.
iksrahm Animeg: Singapore agencies,will process homeleave and charge us 4 1/4mos.salary dduction.
Ulol Ka Na Magnanakaw: I have a 7 months salary deductions... My agency take advantage of us!!! After i finished my my deduction salary they called mo to signa the blank sheet of parer for how many pages! That was against the law I WANT TO SCREAM AND PUT THE PAPER ON THE RUBBISH BUT still i cannot do because am here in singapore they still can hold my neck! When i come home ds Agency will stop their craziness!!! i want to make a move for our justice being a maid.
Alejandro Ruizdelacuesta: So what can be done? Can a collective claim be brought on Singapore courts on behalf of the workers?
If the Act stipulates a maximum charge, then this is beyond the realm of freedom of contract and goes from being a civil contractual dispute to an administrative one. The case should be referred to the Administrative institution that implemented the Act. At the same time the case of people like Ulol above, which show blatant abuse and fraud by coercion and intimidation, I think should be taken to small claims court. I expect that she cannot be represented but she can be assisted in filing and presenting her claim.
Mariz Casiping Kashem: Dans agency collect 5 month salary deduction if your from philippine but if you change employer her in sg 2 month salary..they only say but the agencies not follow..even indonesian maid also pay 5month or more..
Rrhecy Yam Garde: My agency took 7 1/2 months of my salary, that's equivalent to s$3,210..im finishing my contract few months from now.what should I do ???any legal suggestions pls.
Roselyn Pastidio: How could we do? Complain then nobody listened and nver take actions,.suppose to be all agency hv standard minimum deductions,minimum wages,.as per m.o.m and both country sides regulations to follows?.
Heaven Bye Urside: dan's agency charge me 8months
I went Der ask f I change employer how much it cost...they told me I pay 2months... coz finish already my contract my current employer they went back on their country so I need to change employer....
HOME: Even though agencies are not supposed to charge more than 2 months, the additional costs are labelled as 'loans' and MOM allows that, unfortunately.
Analiza Arcojada: im months and half salary deduction here in singaporw ... and my agent take from me thw contract document said latwr Ii will gve it back to you but until now she never return she has so many alibys about my doc... please
how to get from her I want to get my contract doc please help me...
HOME: Selvan and Kalai were deceived by an agent, threatened by their employer and worked for weeks for no pay. Now, they are accused of working illegally. Kalai must leave Singapore this week, empty-handed. HOME has been assisting these workers with their cases.
Living in Sri Lanka, where the economy has been ravaged by years of civil war, Selvan and Kalai were desperate for jobs that would allow them to earn a living. When their best friend Ravi introduced them to an agent who promised them a high paying job at a Singapore hotel in return for $3,000 each, they borrowed money and pawned all of their families’ jewellery in the hope of a better life.
Selvan and Kalai arrived in Singapore to find that instead of the high-paying hotel job promised to them, they found themselves washing dishes at different restaurants for 12 hours a day. They were not allowed any rest, and given only one meal a day. None of Selvan’s and Kalai’s salary ever reached them; the restaurants paid their supervisor, Bala.
After weeks of unpaid labour in such harsh conditions, Selvan and Kalai were overcome with frustration. They asked Bala to send them back home, but their requests were brushed aside and they were instead promised that their salaries would be paid soon.
Unknown to Kalai and Selvan, they were working illegally as they had no work permits. One month later, Kalai was caught by MOM. Upon hearing of Kalai’s arrest, Selvan decided to surrender himself. Deeply indignant about their plight, both Kalai and Selvan tracked down Bala’s whereabouts and confronted him, only to be met with threats to kill them and their families.
Kalai and Selvan were victims of deception, with the agent in Sri Lanka abusing their financial vulnerability. They were forced to work for no pay, and threatened with violence when they questioned their employer. They did not receive a single cent for their work in Singapore. They say that they did not know that they were not supposed to be working in Singapore and were cheated by their employer. However, Kalai and Selvan have not been treated as victims of exploitation in Singapore. Rather, they have been investigated. Kalai will be deported from Singapore this week for overstaying his visa.
Update: since this story was published, in response to HOME’s referral, MOM recognised that elements of human trafficking were present in Kalai’s case. MOM stated that Kalai would not be treated as an offender and would be allowed to work in Singapore again. Kalai has now left Singapore.
$80,000 in grants awarded to three anti-human trafficking proposals, 17 Jul 2014 The Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons (Tip) has awarded about $80,000 in grant money to three anti-human trafficking proposals.
These are from UN Women, a United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women; EmancipAsi, a Singapore-based non-profit against human trafficking; and Dr Sallie Yea of the National Institute of Education (NIE).
This is the second year the taskforce has awarded such grants, to encourage community stakeholders to raise public awareness about human trafficking. A total of six proposals were evaluated by members from the Tip Taskforce. The three successful ones cover initiatives, such as a year-long business engagement campaign, photography exhibitions and film screenings for the general public, and a university-accredited module for trainee teachers.
Mirasol Nebrida Bautista: Read this carefully guys and be aware...this practices must be stopped.....i hate recalling my first time experiences at my stupid agency SINCERE MAID...(nanginginig kalamnan ko sa galit) ...
F*** that agency,,, they took almost half of my salary for 2 years..that money should have been enjoyed by my family at home..i really condemn that Filipina agent there...so double S**T!!!!!
Marilou Abuan: They do this for their own personal purposes, their using their power against us... they don't even think of our share to their company... without us they don't exist!
Mirasol Nebrida Bautista: Until now tears drop from my eyes everytime i recall about my hardearned money that never came into my hands....and to think that my family at home suffered a lot during those times while that stupid agency and my agent enjoyed from it witbout even dropping a single sweat from their body.
Charissa C. Palberas: Yah realy some agency talking nice but realy they are not good enough to their accomadation to the maids..so we hope that the mom cn investigate also the truth.
Marilou Abuan: We are here to work to help our family back home but yet this greedy agencies makes us suffer more than they render help!
Lynanie Guzman Erasquin: Yah its truth I was so disappointed to also when I was in my agency one week we do cleaning morning map the floor noon and night, one time one off them say we cook porridge she say 4 cups I say its more than enaf mam, then she say no its not that's y? We fallow her, then at dinner time the one who told us 4 cups went home ready ,one of them is stay with us we take again that porridge wen she see so much...she scold us and told us to finish in front of her, she is watching while we eating, off course u CNT eat properly most specialy porridge is for the poor of the poorest in Phil, she stand with us and put her hands on her waist and saying u must finish at that time I CNT control my self my tears is fallen, but bcoz its my first time,I keep quit wen she ask me y? Agency is treating u as robot,
Nadine Aguirre: me also I experienced brought to agents house do all d house hold chores and then agent still say rubbish words to us...she even hit my indonesian friend on d head and feet...we slept also at there kitchen...oh I hate this agent...only good in making money
D'nasty Aini: Good morning sir. .
It that true. .The sgpr working still many hv facilities. .of the maid. . Lass important to rest and food
I think like that became working nit happy the self. .
It is category. . To save many no think. .position ather meet. .maybe still how many % working here facilities good. .
Charissa C. Palberas: Me also like that my agency IS AG EMPLOYMENT IN BUKITMAH SHOPING CENTER..we sleep in the kitchen and nt enough food and working for free while we waiting our paper to be fixed..and they gve me salary 35o and 8mnth deduction..i think still they are hiring maid until nw..
Lyn Alerta: no doubt that some of agents dont care their applicants once have employers already and they already paid no care at all..for two years i sleep in the kitchen too in my employer no mattress just a thin things cover the floor no privacy too...hmmm so employers cant blame the helper why after contract end they dont sign again...some are no heart at all treating a helper like a slaves..they dont know what helper means lolZ
Aisha Shazaly: I am direct hired wen I came here 2yrs ago. A relative who is not dh recommend me to a friend who is my boss now. Wat they told me was I will only go thru agency by coming here for legalisation purposes but wen I reach sg they will fetch me right away in the airport. But to my surprised, an old man with 2 myanmar dh are fetch me and bring me to the clinic for the medical and all then bring me to the agents place. There I stayed with 8 other dh. Im the only filipino. Most of them are indons. I dunno wat to do, I dun have phone I dun have money. No one xplains to me wat am I gonna do. My first night I was asked to iron clothes, mope floor and hang clothes which is washed by the other woman.. I really scared. Luckily the nxt day boss fetched me. I never eat for 2days.. only the biscuit I brought from Philippines. Wen I recall everything I cant help to be sad and thankful in a way... I hope agency/agents treat everyone good....
Mirasol Nebrida Bautista: That was my first agency as first timer here. From the time my boss fetch me from that agency i never happened to see it again until now. I hope KARMA goes to them too.
Sincere Maid agency; that was before way back year 2011..
Yes really it was...and to think a fellow Filipina were there too.....instead of helping us they also help to put us down....
Tina Pai: We are all a so called HUMAN BEING...
Yes, we are!!!! but not all can act like one... Some are physically human but they don't have heart to feel what we feel. And true human being has a good heart to feel what other people can feel. They do have mind but they never used it to think first what will be the outcome of their acts towards us...
Those greedy money face people working in those agencies don't really deserve to be called as a human being.. They are evil creatures!!!
And let karma be with them
Flower Rose: As far as I know,to those people just passing resume to the agency and collect commission and that is also illegal recruiters.
Jeniffer Hijada Luy: Only agency here can. Make money....
Sarah Del Mar: Yes it's true. And some not even think it's also filipina they are trying to get some commission not even thinking how their family back home suffer while paying huge amount of deduction. Heartless human being. Whoever is weak is a loser. And whoever is new is weaker and it's easy to prey. And for those new comer they think u help them thinking they found a friend to run to if something went wrong but to ur surprised they will also let u down in times of need. They will side to the agency do that they can earn more and again.
Sarah Del Mar: Hahaha heartless kababayan. But those who did that there will be bad Karma for them in due time and it will come in tones to their lives. I always pray for that.
in Jahred Felips: not only the commission agent but also agencies who are not following the rules;they are collecting to much salry deduction
Jeniffer Hijada Luy: Yes its true becoz according to some agency i spoken my business is human not animals so i need to income and to feed them....
Sarah Del Mar: Income and feed??? It's for animals not human. For human it's suppose to be I have to find a family they can work happily and while waiting for that I can give them good and nice place to stay in return they will remember me. Even though I earn from them
Mahal Jat: If enough people are reported then this practice of trapping victims for the unfair deductions by the fellow FDW (who work as illegal recruiters for the rogue agencies) will also stop.
She E. Fajardo: As per MOM rules, you can break the contract after giving 2 weeks notice and employer has to pay the air fare. I do not think you owe repayment to the employer if you choose to return, just do not sign any papers with employer or agency when you leave.
Mahal Jat: give notice to employer. inform employer also.
u can give verbal notice.
even better if you give written notice n ask employer to acknowledge with sign n give u back one copy.
if they dont send u bk, u can call MOM and embassy and explain u gave the notice already n ur not being repatriated
Best to amicably sort out with the employer, sometimes they need longer notice period to find a suitable replacement, if u can afford then try to be flexible and be willing to give longer time frame to them to find replacement so you part on good terms.
Extracted comments from Facebook regarding "Maid hiring fees lower but their loans balloon". This is an activist page (An) that provides DIY employer/FDW at your own risks, no agent involved. Not providing any hyperlink to help it generate traffic. The 'organiser' is in good relationship with HOME - a haven for runaway maids.
Rin Tacibana: Is crazy my agency,,,i came to spore,,,i pay all my ticket and etc,,,agency still deduct my salary for 3 month,,,and nothing left,,,hope that agency close down soon
Lyn Orcales: I feel bad to the helpers like me especially to those new comers.. Cause employers,there been offered a free replacement while the helper they have to pay transferee fee once they change employer . So in my opinion Mom should look into this matter.
Sharie Dela Cruz: We are hoping to the MOM to track down those cruel Agency. And ban them forever.
Einie Pineda: Better d MOM must investigate under secret agent coz agencies here are so clever if they know thy are under d hot water they pretend they are kind and fillow d rules but behind that they are rude and cruel thats d truth...thet are all greedy they didnt treat you as a human they treat us as a slave whle we are waitubg to hire by our employer..dnt have proper food proper place to sleep..must watch d way they dont know so MOM will find out wht is d truth behind this greedy agencies
Maya Melany Chiayank: Yes corret,this agecy,in bukit timah shopping centre,,labour exspress,,,this agency is very bed agency,,,
Ashley Quirante: Ayah mostly agency take a salary deduction is to much then the maids suffer, work to earn money but agency is so grrrrrr.nakakainis ung mga baguhang darating dito nd kaagad magkapera sa pinagpaguran kc agency unang kumain sa pinaghirapan nang iba dapat patas lang sana pare parehas lang naman gsto kumita
Jona May Cerbas: Shame of there self, agency suppose take good care the helper coz without us they don't have business and work...
Maid hiring fees lower but their loans balloon, 7 July 2014
A price war is raging in the maid industry here as agents slash their fees to attract employers - but it is the maids who are bearing the brunt. Now, it can cost as little as $300 to hire a maid, down from an average of around $1,600 six months ago, checks with 15 agencies show. (Winter: this fee increase is usually for new maids. I hope maid agencies can let the FDWs know how much they are suppose to pay before flying to Spore. I hope the agencies and FDWs will be truthful. If maid felt cost is too high, please don't be stupid by accepting a job and making yourself look like commodity. Don't come to Spore and claiming you've been cheated or employers not paying your recruitment fee. Don't accuse employers for not paying you for 8 months' service. FDW, you are an adult, be responsible for your own decision. You decided to flew to Spore while at source country, employers didn't force you nor tie you up like an animal/cargo and be 'shipped' to our house for 'slavery'. You paid your agency to get a juicy job ... if you want to blame somebody, point fingers to yourself and your agent. Blame your govt for not educating you about FDW job placements and regulating unscrupulous agency in your country.)
Agents can offer such rock-bottom rates because they are passing the bulk of the recruitment costs onto the maids themselves. As a result, the fees that the maids pay the agents have doubled, from an average of around $2,200 to more than $4,000. (Winter: Employer has agency fee to pay, insurance, etc .... nothing is free. The sum will balloon if the FDW can't stay with her first employer and became a transfer maid. Maid will face her first unsettled loan and new agency fee to get second employer.)
Many go without wages, or earn only $10 or $20 a month for up to eight months, while they pay off what they owe in fees. Most maids here earn around $500 a month. Agents are warning that more maids will be discouraged by the high fees and quit. Retention rates are already poor. (Winter: When a relationship doesn't work, Employer and FDW have to pay agency fee. Maid agencies get to earn 'recyle money', again and again. This is not a good sign. We shouldn't allow maid agencies to earn blood sucking unethical money. It is our hard earned money! How can MOM allow such trading to take place?)
Manpower Ministry figures show that only 42 per cent of the maids placed by agencies between February 2011 and February last year stayed with the same employer for at least a year. A standard employment contract is for two years. Orange Employment Agency owner Shirley Ng said that maids suffer a dip in morale when they have heavy debts. "How would you feel if you had to go without pay for eight months?" she said. "You would want to quit." (Winter: 8 months of hard work but not paid because maid agency gets all the easy money. If I'm the 'naive' FDW, I will be angry and vent anger on the innocent employer! Agencies are hard to reach so firing missiles at Employers are easier and more convenient (living in same house) ... can't miss the targets! Maid/FDW, please don't be stupid by accepting a job and making yourself look like commodity. Make your agencies give you a cost break down before you sign the papers and fly to Spore. Please spare employers from miseries. Don't come!)
The key reason for the price war is a glut in supply at agencies that have "no unique selling point other than cheap rates", said Carene Chin, who owns Homekeeper, one of the largest maid agencies here. Industry players estimate that Singapore has more than 1,000 active maid employment agencies. Ms Chin said: "Many agencies don't have a good reputation or a strong client base. They have nothing that lets them stand out, other than cheap fees."
However, some Singapore agents interviewed said that recruitment fees charged to maids have increased because agents overseas are asking for more in commissions. Kerri Tan, managing director of United Channel agency, said: "When there is good demand for maids, the overseas agents always ask for more money." The way to prevent maids from being overcharged would be through strict regulations, migrant-worker activists said.
Under the current legislation, maid agents here can charge workers recruitment fees of up to two months of their salary. But these laws are not sufficient, said Jolovan Wham, executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics. He said: "Employers should foot all the fees for recruiting a worker. This would be in line with International Labour Organisation guidelines." (Winter: Employer has agency fee to pay, take leave to find & train FDW, accommodation, insurance, live-in costs, etc... who says we're employing cheap FDW? If activists insist Employers must foot all the costs, I hope MOM can eliminate that demanding source country. Otherwise, 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!)
Vicente Cabe, labour attache at the Philippine Embassy here, said that in recent months it had barred some local agencies from recruiting Filipino maids, as they had charged excessive fees. "We will suspend more agents once we find sufficient evidence to prove their wrongdoing," he said.
More money, less hassle for agents of transfer maids, Straits Times, 18 Mar 2014
When a maid asks for a transfer, it spells inconvenience and cost for the employer. But for the maid agent, it can mean more agency fees from a new employer, and more commission from the maid for finding her a new boss - all without the hassle of going abroad to recruit.
This high turnover of maids here - between February 2011 and last year, only slightly more than four in 10 maids stayed with the same employer for at least a year - was highlighted in a letter which ran in The Straits Times Forum pages last month.
It drew a flurry of online comments from employers, who said maids cite anything from family problems to being unhappy with their current employer, or wanting a weekly day off - to cut short the standard two-year contract. Some also believe agents may not be doing enough to persuade maids to stay. Air stewardess Shirley Lee, 39, whose Filipino maid quit after three months, said: "Why would an agent want to help the maids solve their issues with employers if they can earn good profits when she transfers?"
Agents admit that working with transfer maids involves less hassle since they are already here. But agents still earn as much as the usual $600 to $800 they get for a new maid. "There isn't enough incentive to persuade a maid to continue working for her employer instead of transferring," said an agent who declined to be named. In recent years, the high turnover rate has even spurred the opening of agencies specialising in transfer maids. Such agencies have sprouted up in Coronation Plaza and Lucky Plaza, which are known in the industry as "transfer-maid hubs".
Industry players said these specialist agencies can earn over $1,000 for each worker. The money comes from the lower operating costs, since they do not travel overseas, and also from charging employers extra for the benefit of interviewing the maids in person. However, these agents said claims of easy money are wrong. Transfer maids tend to be more demanding since their experience is valued by employers. There have also been cases of employers hiring transfer maids directly after being introduced to them.
The transfer maid situation here is in marked contrast to that in Hong Kong. Agents there said over 60 per cent of maids complete their two-year contracts. Maids there are deterred from changing bosses because each transfer takes two months and this means a loss of income. They earn over $650, compared to the market rate of $450 in Singapore, and pay lower placement fees. Indonesian embassy counsellor Sukmo Yuwono, who is in charge of the welfare of maids here from his country, said the high turnover rate can be improved by matching maids with suitable employers. "Some maids are not told that they have to clean a big house with pets. So they get a shock and give up."
Maids are also more educated these days and ready to stand up for themselves. Said Orange Employment agency owner Shirley Ng: "Maids these days are less likely to keep quiet and just work. They will ask for a transfer if they do not get a day off." A 29-year-old Filipino maid, who wanted to be identified only as Matat, is waiting for a new employer after her previous one did not accede to her request.
Best Home Employment Agency owner Tay Khoon Beng told The Straits Times that more maids are approaching the firm for help in resolving problems with their employer, instead of running away.
Mr Tay said: "Previously, they would feel there was no point in trying harder since they had to wait nearly a year before they can send money home."
Ms Bridget Tan, chief executive of foreign workers' group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said the number of Indonesian maids sheltered by her organisation has held steady at about 20 maids a month for the past year. Still she feels that even the $2,200 agent's fee Indonesian maids pay needs to be cut further. "That is a lot of money for someone earning so little. Employers should be willing to pay more of the recruitment cost so that the maids can pay less."
Winter: to employ Indonesian maids, employers are being made to pay non refundable agency fee from S$1000 to $2000. This is to allow maids have some cash on hands, be happy at employer's expense. When a bad or unsuitable maid is being employed, your agency fee is not only fully eaten by maid agency, you are required to pay for your maid's lodging, levy and insurance till she is being transferred out. Most agencies charge $20 per day. If your maid (of any nationality) takes a long time to fish for her preferred employer, let's say she sat in the agency for 21 days without lifting a finger to work, physically not in your house, you are still liable to pay 21 days X $20 = $$420. After adding the non refundable agency fee from S$1000 to $1800, levy and insurance, your damages is a lot more than you thought .... easily $2000 flew away! Costs and inconveniencs that you need to bear in mind would be time spent to train that outgoing FDW and a newcomer, the number of annual leave you've consumed or going to waste 'again', time taken to hunt for a replacement, etc.
Does maid suffer any losses? FDW may be asked to pay her agency 1 to 2 months agency fee in order to get a new employer. Some agencies purposely mismatch employers' requirement or 'educate' their maids to seek transfer so they do not charge FDW any fee, they reap huge profits from employers.
Maid agencies and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) are the ones smiling because they are not held responsible for anything nor faced any monetary losses.
Is it worthwhile to employ a maid?
Do you really need to employ a FDW? No other alternative?
Do you really think most maids will appreciate what you've done and paid for them?
Don't lie, deny the truth and just see the cost of employing a FDW from faced value, ie a 'low monthly salary of S$450 or $500/month', there are lots of hidden costs. Read: Cost to hire a Maid
20 Jun - 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 commitment, 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 are 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 Filipino FDWs can vacate Spore. We don't need prideful Filipinos, self-indulgent, expensive, stubborn and untrainable maids to remain here as live-in FDWs.
Another evidence to show Filipinos just want to skin Spore FDW employers!
Extracted this "A group of local recruitment agencies deploying household service workers (HSWs) to Singapore will temporary suspend sending Filipinos there starting 2 September 2013.
At a general membership meeting on Saturday, a total of 120 members of the Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore (ALRAS) agreed to stop deploying household workers to protest continued collection of placement fees by their counterparts there.
ALRAS president Lucy Sermonia announced the decision to implement a self-imposed moratorium so that member agencies can convince some partners in Singapore to abide by the Philippine policy of “non-collection” of placement fees. "In order to protect the industry, the association has agreed that a moratorium be implemented in order to convince Singapore agencies that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) does not allow the collection of placement fees under the HSW Reform Package of 2007", she said.
Singapore is fifth highest destination of HSWs with some 150,000 Filipinos working as domestic helpers there.
Meanwhile, Administrator Atty. Hans Cacdac, who was present at the meeting, reiterated that the POEA will not hesitate to impose sanctions against erring agencies who are found violating the no-placement-fee policy."
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. Wake up, Spore doesn't have gold mines for you to dig. Employers who have other choices, will go for other nationalities eg Cambodian or opt for subsidized childcare centres. Employers have absolutely no protection nor any guarantee that FDWs will commit herself to work if paid so much. You dare to employ fresh Filipinos? We looked like paid higher by the companies that employed us but have you forgotten to factor in the living in costs and Sg high cost of living? Most 'clever' maids are already enjoying great lives yet still want to ask more from us... your never ending feeling of treating you better than ourselves is wrong, so selfish, infuriating!
In case you're still in slumberland, there's no way you can force a maid to stay and work 2 good years with you. MOM (via SIP course)has trained FDWs how to runaway from their contractual duties. Maids leverage on several ways to break their contracts and get a transfer. She can refuse to work (boycott), laze around or adopt a poor working attitude and deliberately break/destroy your things. A recalcitrant maid can also feigns unstable behaviour or simply hop into a cab and seek sanctuary at her embassy, HOME or agency.
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 $2,000 on average, or four months' salary.
Placement fee only on first-time maids, Straits Times Forum, 20 Apr
Ms Agnes Kwok Sook Yee says she is willing to pay the placement fee if the maid is really trained ("Placement fee should be tied to maids' training"; last Monday).
Why is the onus on employers to pay for the maids' training?
In most fields and jobs, employees pay for their own training to upgrade themselves so they can get better jobs.
If maids want to work in more developed countries, they should pay the training fees.
I understand that they may not have the financial ability to do so; that is why the employers usually pay first and the maids repay them later. This is why such maid placement fees should be levied only once and not each time a maid leaves to work for another employer.
Francis Ho See Tong
I read the article ("Manila tightens maid hiring rules"; last Friday) with concern.
I do not mind paying the placement fee if the maid is really trained. Placement training is meant to teach and prepare maids to do well here. Despite this, I still had one maid who did not know how to use a washing machine. After I showed how it is used, she stood for five minutes watching the whirling wash, her head spinning together with the machine. Another maid used her toes to push dust into the dustbin when sweeping the floor, used her fingers to clean off the dirt under her toenails, and went to prepare food immediately after that.
The $2,000 placement fee is unjustified as most maids do not know basic hygiene, have cooking skills or housekeeping abilities. The few maids I have hired who knew how to do their jobs did not know it because of any placement training they had undergone - they knew what to do because they had prior experience.
When my maid requested to return after six months back home, she was made to go back to the placement centre, not to be trained but to give training to other maids, as she had experience.
Unfairly, we had to bear the placement fee.
It is one thing to charge employers. But the Philippine government must ensure that maids are fully equipped with the skills to do their jobs when they are sent out.
Agnes Kwok Sook Yee
Cambodian maids to earn at least $420 a month, 30 May 2013, Straits Times
Cambodia has proposed employment terms for these maids in a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was sent this week to the six maid agents picked by the Manpower Ministry to recruit the maids.
Workers with no experience will get a minimum of $420 a month.
Those with experience will be paid at least $450. If the maid works on all her four rest days each month, she has to be paid another $70.
Winter: This is great, employer need not fork out one-time maid loan because placement will be paid with loan from finance firm. I doubt maid agencies willing to earn lesser and chase maid for payment. End of the day, still made employers foot maid loan for their convenience. I'm willing to hire an experience Cambodian maid at S$450 if she has learnt to speak some Mandarin and English. I can't speak Malay so if she can only understand mother tougue and Malay... end up like another M, chicken and duck, no way.
It looks better to get Cambodia maids because they are uncommon in Spore .... 400 Cambodian FDWs vs the influential Filipino and Indonesian FDWs.... don't you think it is better? But to pay an inexperienced Cambodian maid minimum S$420, higher than Myanmese, both nationalities known to be unable to communicate in basic English, how to work with them?
I must admit, I am not an ideal employer who has patience to train her, enjoy a chicken & duck relationship and leave my girl alone with a her, expect her to learn, be smart and independant like Filipinos ... with one month intensive training. Spent 4 months with M (my ex-Indonesian maid), I realised Indonesians are known to be slow by nature, not easy to re-programme them to work faster... most FDWs (in fact ... all nationalities) do not desperately need a job, there's nothing to drive them to work harder and faster (productive). The MOM policies are to their advantage. Employers cannot simply fire any FDW, absorb the losses of FDW who refuse to perform (not that she cannot do a proper job, she just stubbornly refused to co-operative thinking that's part of her human rights), as per job requirements.
Visit Nation and pay $1800 as agency fee, crazy, just like daylight robbery!
Pay more doesn't mean employer will get trained and maids of better quality cum ideal working attitude. Employers .... I forsee are just paying more but getting more headaches and unfair treatment! The sad fact is our MOM is all the way backing the maid agents and FDWs.... helping and collaborated with them to milk the employers in whichever way they fancy! Employers are powerless against these unscruplous people who portrayed themselves as nice earthlings! Nobody care nor willing to help us.
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