Costs will go up for Malaysian confinement nannies under new travel deal

Mrs Jean Lee (centre) with her husband, baby and confinement nanny. They wanted to extend the nanny's services but could not.
PHOTO: Jean Lee

Hiring a confinement nanny from Malaysia typically sets one back $3,000 to $3,500 a month.

But this is set to increase as cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia starts again.

Applications for cross-border travel arrangements started yesterday and it takes place under two schemes: the reciprocal green lane for travellers on shorter visits, and the longer-term periodic commuting arrangement (PCA).

The hiring of nannies will be through the PCA scheme and costs incurred will amount to approximately $2,000, which includes Covid-19 tests and accommodation for the nannies who have to remain under a mandatory 14-day stay-home notice at hotels or dedicated facilities before starting work.

Employers of confinement nannies are responsible for their food and lodging, and will now also have to bear the extra cost, although a spokesman from the Ministry of Manpower told The New Paper: "Employers may reach a mutual agreement with their employment agencies on cost-sharing."

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While agencies TNP spoke to are looking forward to having their nannies return to Singapore to work, the additional overheads pose a problem.

Mr Looi Kuan Siong, founder of Homey Confinement, said it will fully absorb the additional costs, though it meant the agency will "earn about a few hundreds (dollars) less for each nanny every month".

Mr Alex Chua, director of Super Nanny Services, told TNP 40 per cent of its clients are willing to bear the additional costs but added the company is in discussions on how to split the costs equally.

A manager at Newlife Confinement Services, who wanted to be known only as Ms Sophia, said it has yet to decide if the additional costs are to be shared with clients.

Consultant Jean Lee's daughter was born six weeks ago and she had a confinement nanny for a month after making an earlier booking. She and her husband wanted to extend their nanny's services but was turned down as the nanny had been signed up elsewhere.

"My husband and I looked around for help, but it was difficult," she said.

Though being hands-on with her child has been rewarding, Mrs Lee, 30, said being first-time parents, there are many things they are unsure of.

Mr Gilbert Tan, brand and business development in-charge of Confinement Angels, said the PCA is a chance for them to bring business back.

Mr Tan, who oversees 280 nannies, all Malaysians, said 152 of them are in Singapore now. He added: "All our current nannies are fully booked for the rest of the year. So the PCA is really crucial for us."

Although he has put up advertisements online to hire local nannies, this has not worked.

He said: "Being a confinement nanny is a round-the-clock job and the locals are not as willing to commit to that."

ALSO READ: Confinement nanny hires in Singapore - how much they cost and where to find them?

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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