The call by an association representing maid agents in Singapore to cap fees collected from foreign maids baffles me ("Call to cap fees collected from maids"; Thursday).
A better solution is to educate maids on the right amount of fees they should pay.
Placement fees are made up of different components, which may vary depending on the country of origin of the maids. The amounts may be inconsistent even in the same country and are frequently not transparent to maids, employers and the Singapore agents.
Besides local and foreign agents' commissions, these fees may also include fees of recruiters in the maids' home towns, and advances made to the maids and their families before the workers report to the foreign training centres.
A portion of the placement fee may, therefore, comprise the maids' personal debts.
The maids' home government plays a critical role in educating its nationals on the rightful amount of placement fees that should be borne by them.
This will minimise the risks of profiteering by local and foreign agents at the maids' expense.
One should bear in mind that cases of overcharging come to light only when the victim lodges a complaint.
In the long run, it bodes well for the industry when Singapore agents are compelled to be transparent on the quantum of their service fees, without hidden components in placement fees.
Singapore employers must realise that a discontented maid is likely to prematurely terminate her contract, which, in turn, translates to unrecoverable placement fees.
Engaging a maid should be fair to all stakeholders.
Shirley Ng Chiou Peng (Ms)
Member, Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore)
This article was first published on February 28, 2015.
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