2 in 3 maids don’t get to complete their contracts: Here’s what MOM is doing to help employers find better matches

Free dispute resolution service and more background information on maids among new measures by MOM to improve retention rates.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Sunday (Oct 6) that it will progressively roll out measures over the next two years, starting from the end of the month, to improve domestic worker retention rates. 

According to MOM, only 1 in 3 maids get to finish their two-year contract, and in 2018, 250 employers changed maids five or more times within a year. There are approximately 250,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore. 

To encourage better matching of employers and foreign domestic workers, MOM will be introducing a new measure aimed at different issues in October this year, in October 2020, and again in October 2021.

These new measures were developed based on feedback from employers, employment agencies and non-government organisations, as well as consults with 44 different stakeholders, it said.

For this year, the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), will launch a free dispute resolution service by the end of the month to help resolve issues between employers, maids, and their agencies.

The service aims to encourage employers to consider resolving issues instead of ending the working relationship with their foreign domestic workers.

In a report by The Straits Times, Michael Chew, chair of the mediation sub-committee at FAST, was quoted as saying that disputes are often caused by cultural differences or misunderstandings, and helpers may not dare to raise the issues they face with employers.

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The next measure for October 2020, will provide employers and employment agencies access to more information on a domestic worker’s work experience, including their key job scopes. Other information includes the household size of a maid’s previous employer, as well as the reason for leaving their last employment.

This will ensure employment agencies are better able to advise employers who need additional help in selecting suitable domestic workers, MOM said.

The last measure, to be launched in October 2021, will require all employment agencies to provide an option for a refund of at least 50 per cent of the service fee charged to employers when a contract is terminated in the first six months.

According to The Straits Times, employers currently pay fees ranging from S$300 to S$1,200.

This will “ensure that employment agencies take greater ownership in finding suitable and better matches for employers,” MOM said.

Agencies will also be informed when the domestic workers they had placed leave Singapore after completing their contracts. MOM said that these workers are more likely to have adjusted well in Singapore and have had good working relationships with previous employers. As such, bringing them back would benefit other prospective employers as well.

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