More needs to be done to attract foreign maids

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Centre for Domestic Employees chairman says Singapore needs to up its game

With more than 300,000 foreign maids needed in Singapore by 2030, the country has to step up its game if it wants to meet this projected demand, Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said yesterday.

"We now face more challenges because other countries like Japan and Taiwan have also opened up to employ foreign domestic workers," Mr Yeo said.

"It is important for us to ensure that Singapore remains a choice destination for workers in the region."

He was speaking to a crowd at a cooking competition organised by Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao and maid employment agency Nation at Suntec City Convention Centre.

Five employers and their maids paired up to create healthy dishes in an hour-long cookout.

Mr Yeo said the contest showed the importance of cultivating a good working relationship through effective communication.

He also urged the industry to adopt fairer employment practices and offer pathways for maids to learn new skills so Singapore remains an attractive place for them.

To this end, the CDE is working with stakeholders to enhance insurance coverage, increase transparency in employment agency fees and give maids the ability to obtain Workforce Skills Qualifications when they first arrive in Singapore.

He also highlighted the CDE's push to encourage employers to use electronic payment, such as interbank Giro, to credit salaries directly to the maids' bank accounts.

It is important for us to ensure that Singapore remains a choice destination for workers in the region. Centre for Domestic Employees chairman Yeo Guat Kwang

Banks charge customers who do not keep a minimum daily amount in their accounts a monthly fee of around $2.

Domestic workers who prefer to wire their money back home as soon as they receive their pay often have to pay this.

Mr Yeo said: "We are now working closely with one of the local banks to waive some of these fee requirements."

Details of electronic payment of maids' salaries will be announced soon, he added.

This will help avoid salary disputes between employers and maids. Last year, more than half of the 600 complaints CDE received arose from such disputes.

"When we try to investigate, the employer will pull out paper documents as proof. But some employers may have forced their domestic workers to sign off on these receipts," said Mr Yeo.

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