Mailbox: Clamp down on maid transfer market

Employers of maids and, sometimes, maid agencies are at the losing end ("More money, less hassle for agents of transfer maids"; Tuesday).

Recently, my family hired a Filipino maid to replace our previous one, who left after completing her contract.

We interviewed the new maid twice over the phone and told her about the duties expected of her. She could clearly understand what we said as she asked several follow-up questions and assured us that she was willing to work for us.

However, after barely two weeks with us, she asked to be sent back to her agency.

She told the agency she did not want to work for us anymore and demanded a transfer. Clearly, she was cherry-picking employers and wanted easier duties.

There was little we could do. We had given the maid a loan to pay the placement fee. We also paid a huge sum to the agency to bring her to Singapore.

To ensure that we got our refund for the loan and for the agency to find us a replacement maid, we had to allow the transfer.

The agency had few choices too. Since it had to refund us and cover the cost of the replacement maid, it had to ensure the maid continued working to pay off her loan. If she was sent home, the agency would suffer a loss.

My situation is not unique. A check on online forums will show that this is a common tactic used by maids.

The law needs to be strengthened to protect employers.

The practice of getting employers to give loans to maids to cover their placement fees should be banned.

Also, transfers should not be allowed unless the maid completes her contract or has to terminate it due to extenuating circumstances, such as the death of an elderly person she is hired to care for.

Clamping down on the transfer market would encourage both employers and maids to work things out and fulfil their obligations to each other.

Ong Chin Meng

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