Plan for male helpers hits snag

Plan for male helpers hits snag
Mr Laminn Koko (left), from Myanmar, has proven to be a good helper for Mr John Ashworth (right), after the patient’s son, Mr Richard Ashworth, had little success with two previous female maids.

SINGAPORE - A push by a local maid agency to bring in more male helpers to Singapore has hit a snag because it has been found to be "not practical".

Homekeeper, which last year announced plans to bring in up to 100 male "maids", has decided there is not enough interest after bringing in 10 from Myanmar.

Issues include the longer time it takes for a male helper's work permit to be approved, the fact that he cannot be transferred to another family and families' reservations regarding living arrangements.

"If there are women living in the house, families are not comfortable with a male helper also staying under the same roof," said Homekeeper general manager Mark Chin.

The role of live-in male helpers is to take care of elderly men, who might be too heavy for female maids to lift. They are paid around $600 a month, compared with around $2,000 for a male nurse.

A Manpower Ministry (MOM) spokesman said there are around 30 male helpers here, and applications to bring them in are "very rare" and allowed only in "exceptional situations". There are more than 200,000 female maids here.

Last year, Homekeeper decided to bring in more male helpers after saying there was a strong demand for them to take care of elderly men who may be bedridden, given the ageing population. But it found that getting approval for a helper would take one to three months.

Families who wanted a male helper were willing to wait in the beginning, but as their needs grew more urgent, they became more impatient, Mr Chin said. Sometimes, prospective employers had to seek the help of their Members of Parliament to try to get the applications approved, he added. But this is only part of the problem.

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