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If your maid misbehaves …

  • TODAY (27 November 2010): If your maid misbehaves …
  • TODAY (22 November 2010): Does Manpower Ministry require due diligence from maid agencies?

If your maid misbehaves …
- TODAY, 27 November 2010

We thank Ruth Wong for her feedback and suggestions (TODAY, 22 November 2010).

2.   If a foreign domestic worker (FDW) has behaved irresponsibly, employers can write to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) at MOM will take appropriate action based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Any FDW convicted of offences under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act or criminal offences will be barred permanently from working in Singapore. This prevents the transfer of FDWs with bad track records within the industry.

3.   MOM also requires all employment agencies (EA) to provide prospective employers the employment history of FDWs. FDW employers may also obtain such information from the Work Permit Online system that is accessible via MOM’s website.

4.   Employers who are dissatisfied with the service standards of their EAs may approach the respective accreditation body (CaseTrust or Association of Employment. Agencies (Singapore)) to lodge a complaint. To guide prospective FDW employers to an appropriate EA that suits their needs, there is a directory of EAs on MOM’s website ( with information on the number of demerit points issued to each EA, and a list of EAs which are under surveillance or have had their licences revoked. MOM will be enhancing the directory to provide more information and search functions.

5.   The writer had suggested that EAs be responsible for verifying the information provided in the FDW’s bio-data. The accreditation bodies have proposed to develop a standard bio-data template for the industry to help distinguish more responsible EAs by requiring agencies to indicate if and how they had attempted to verify the information provided. MOM is supportive of this initiative and is working with them to develop the template.

6.   Amendments to the Employment Agencies Act are currently before Parliament and the proposed new framework, together with a standard bio-data template, aim to raise the standard of recruitment practices and to minimise malpractices in the industry.

Does Manpower Ministry require due diligence from maid agencies?
- TODAY, 22 November 2010

MY helper, who came to work with my family a week ago, suddenly left our home without a word and returned about three hours later, saying that she had gone out to meet her friends. We were appalled by her irresponsible behaviour.

We called the maid agency to inform them that she was missing and also searched for her. In the process, I discovered a name card in her wallet and suspected it belonged to her former employer (she had worked in Singapore and left a few months ago).

I decided to call her former employer and asked if our maid might have gone to her place.

She was surprised to learn that her former maid was working for me.

I was shocked to learn that the maid had been sent home before the end of her two-year contract because she had stolen money from her former employer's family. They did not file a police report as they did not want to ruin the maid's future. Instead, they sent her back to Indonesia.

We decided to immediately send our maid back to the agency.

We could not risk having a dishonest helper in the family.

We had already intended, a few days earlier, to send the maid back as we found her to have a poor attitude. Her work performance was also below our expectations despite the fact that she had worked as a domestic helper in Singapore and Indonesia. But the agency advised us to keep her until we found a new one.

I have a small baby and an elderly mother to look after, and this incident has left us feeling stressed. We hope the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) can help to address our concerns.
Firstly, does MOM require maid agencies to perform due diligence and confirm the maids' information reflected in their bio-data?

In our case, it wasn't just the bio-data of our new maid that was inaccurate. When we went to the agency to hire a replacement and conducted a phone interview with a prospective maid, we found out that she had not worked here for two years, as was stated in her bio-data.

She had only worked here for seven months before being sent back to Indonesia. How could the agency provide us with the wrong information twice?

Can the MOM make it at least compulsory for maid agencies to verify the period maids have worked here?

Maids who do not complete their two-year contract should be investigated by agencies further.

In addition, what avenue is there for employers to seek legal recourse where the maid agency's professionalism is found wanting, to the point that it causes employers unnecessary stress and inconvenience?

When we told the head of the maid agency that we did not want the maid to be sent here to work again (to protect other families from suffering the same fate that we and her ex-employer did), the agency's head said there was no way she could stop the recruiter from marketing the maid to another agency.

Can the MOM can put a stop to this? What regulations does it have to protect employers from malpractice and unprofessional maid agencies?

Finally, when we sent the maid back to the agency, she was visibly happy and showed no sign of remorse. It is critical that domestic helpers are closely monitored. Perhaps MOM could set up a registry for domestic helpers like that for real estate agents.