WHEN put in perspective, if a spouse in a Malaysian household resigns from her job as a substitute for a maid, with a conservative average monthly income of RM3,000, that is RM36,000 less on the household table.
Take into account 300,000 Indonesian maids that used to work here and you have a scenario, where families in this country will be forgoing RM11bil in potential household revenue.
It seems obvious that middlemen are trying to blatantly profit from the urgent need for maids.
On one side of the coin, you have Malaysian maid agencies who used to charge up to RM8,000 for securing a maid and when the Government announced a moratorium on fees chargeable, the Indonesia side immediately claimed the fee was too low (See article below).
Invariably, both the employer and the maid are the victims. In any employment sector, it is very unusual for a potential employee to pay a fee to be employed.
The argument for deductions put forth by maid agencies, that the deduction is for loans given to maids and for training, does not make sense.
Perhaps a holistic solution would be to allow Indonesian agents to open offices in Malaysia and work directly with Malaysian employers.
Create a maid training facility, where maids can arrive and be trained within a short period of 10 working days.
Such a facility can be co-sponsored by the Malaysian Government. All it should entail is 10 to 20 low- to medium-cost flats that can house 200 to 300 maids, with a common area that allows for training.
Concurrently, increase the maid’s salary to RM800 per month in lieu of any advance payment and no increase in the agent’s fee.
There should be no need for any advance payment with full payment to be made upon final selection, when the employer takes the maid home. Peg the agent’s fee at RM1,500, with reimbursements for other costs, from levy to travel, that must be substantiated with proper receipts.
This is similar to what is charged in Singapore.
The training programme should not cost more than RM1,500. Which means the total cost can be pegged between RM4,500 and RM5,000 at most.
Get agreement with the Indonesian government on the process for direct engagement with maids.
Maids should only be required to go through an orientation programme similar to Singapore’s SIP (Settling-In-Programme) for foreign domestic workers.
Maids should not be allowed to work for more than eight hours a day. If required to work overtime, they should be entitled to a minimum hourly rate of RM8 to RM10 per hour.
Create a toll-free number manned by agencies that will monitor the welfare of maids, to ensure their overall well-being at all times.
Souce: B. J. FERNANDEZ Shah Alam, The Star views
Maid agencies: Fees are too low?
PETALING JAYA: Maid agencies are adamant that the RM4,511 fee imposed by the Government for Indonesian maids is too low, as the actual cost to recruit a maid is double the amount.
Many described the fee, which was agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur last year, as “impossible to meet” and said that they have been running at a loss while trying to comply with it.
An agency owner, who declined to be named, said that despite demand, his agency had stopped recruiting Indonesian maids as he would spend up to RM10,000.
He said the fees charged by Indonesian maid suppliers started at RM5,500 including training, medical check-up, transport and recruitment fees, as well as duit susu, which is a contribution paid to the families of the maids.
“If we are being charged RM5,500 per maid, how can you expect agencies to comply with a fee of RM4,511, especially now that the cost has gone up for everything, including air travel?” he asked.
He urged the Government to review the amount and consult both Indonesian and Malaysian agency representatives so that a more realistic fee could be set.
Malaysian employers had previously called for Papa to justify the increase in Indonesian maid fees by agencies by up to RM12,000 and asked for a breakdown of costs.
Some had also urged the association to pressure its members to comply with the agreed fee, saying that the high demand for maids would compensate for it.
A spokesman for another agency said her company was now charging RM9,800 per Indonesian maid.
“We have already lowered the fee, but we cannot do much as our Indonesian partners are charging close to RM6,000 per maid,” she said.
Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said that prior to the morato-rium on maids from Indonesia, employers had no qualms about paying up to RM9,000 for domestic helpers.
“We voiced our disagreement on the RM4,511 fee when the Govern-ment consulted us as it is simply too low, and were shocked when they settled on that price in the MoU anyway,” he said.
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