Salaries of new Indonesian maids to rise to S$450

SINGAPORE : The salaries of new Indonesian foreign domestic workers will soon rise.

17 major employment agencies in Singapore will increase the monthly salaries for the workers from S$380 to S$450. The increment will take effect by this week, they said.

Over the years, the supply of Indonesian maids in Singapore has been dwindling.

Employment agencies indicated that the shortage was due largely to demand from places such as Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The agencies recently met maid suppliers from Indonesia to try and resolve the issue. One solution is to provide better salaries.

Desmond Chin, group director, Nation Employment, said: "All the suppliers, they’re facing difficult conditions to recruit. They are requesting us to match the maid’s salary to HK$650, to match the salary to T$800, which is right now impossible.

"Maybe, we can do it step by step. So right now, we have agreed with the Indonesian supplier for the salary of S$450."

Many employment agencies in Singapore support the move.

The higher salary will not benefit the agencies or the suppliers, as there will be no change in the foreign placement fee.

Employment agencies said the change can help remove unhealthy practices among the agencies.

Tay Khoon Beng, director, Best Home Employment Agency, said: "If we don’t have enough supply to applicants in the first place, eventually more and more agencies will poach one another’s maids and offer 10 and 20 dollars increase in salary and transfer these helpers among Singaporean employers and this is even a worse scenario for us."

Employment agencies said it is up to employers to increase the salary of existing maids. They are also wary of the possibility of a small group of maids who may try to terminate their contracts so that they can be re—employed with the better salary.

Some employers feel any salary increase has to be gradual.

Samuel Teo, an employer of an Indonesian maid, said: "The other thing is that I also feel that, of course, when you pay more, you’re expecting a very high quality from the maid. Will the maid be able to deliver?"

More than 70 per cent of maids working in Singapore are Indonesians and employment agencies said demand for these maids is still strong.

With the proposed salary increase for Indonesian maids, employment agencies also hope to increase the retention rate, giving them the incentive to work longer in Singapore.

— CNA/al