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Non-digital options available for maid applications

  • The Straits Times (11 March 2017): Streamline online maid application process
  • The Straits Times (19 March 2017): Provide seniors with non-digital options too

Non-digital options available for maid applications

- The Straits Times, 10 April 2017

  1. We thank Mr David Lam Yan Choon (Streamline online maid application process; March 11) and Ms Amy Loh Chee Seen (Provide seniors with non-digital options too; March 19) for their feedback on online transactions for the application of foreign domestic workers (FDWs).
  2. Without the use of technology, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would not be able to provide satisfactory service to customers. Our online work pass systems process more than two million transactions a year. In 2015, we redesigned MOM’s FDW online services and simplified the application and renewal processes to 15 and five minutes respectively. 
  3. Last year, 99 per cent (56,000) of FDW employers submitted their applications/renewals online and 75 per cent rated the new online service 5 out of 6. 
  4. Nevertheless, MOM continues to provide non-digital alternatives for users who cannot access online services. FDW employers can engage an employment agency to perform the transactions on their behalf. 
  5. SingPost also accepts applications at their counters. Otherwise, employers can call MOM for assistance.
  6. In Mr Lam’s and Ms Loh’s cases, our officers had assisted them in their application/renewal process. Mr Lam’s application was approved in three working days and Ms Loh renewed the work permit of her mother’s helper within a day.
  7. Mr Lam’s case required additional verification or documents for support as he was applying under a sponsorship scheme. 
  8. As these are exceptional cases where the sponsor does not reside with the employer, we needed to ascertain the caregiving needs in his household. 
  9. Lastly, the two-factor authentication was introduced for SingPass in order to protect citizens from fraudulent transactions while ensuring the reliability of our online services.
  10. As we look to new ways to improve our service delivery, we will continue to assist those who may need additional assistance.

Streamline online maid application process

- The Straits Times, 11 March 2017

  1. Recently, a domestic helper was transferred to me after much to-ing and fro-ing with the Ministry of Manpower.
  2. The ministry seems to treat new employers like businesses that are digital savvy and equipped with advanced printers, scanners, e-mail, messaging, smartphones and computer software.
  3. Little help is offered to clueless employers to simplify the online process (it took me two hours and several calls to talk to a human).
  4. New employers must pass an online orientation programme in English. The non-English-speaking ones have to attend a three-hour course before they qualify. This is despite a useful website which spells out the eligibility conditions.
  5. When a qualified employer applies online, he will find the process onerous and unfriendly.
  6. First, he has to have SingPass and two-factor authentication ready, without which he cannot get started.
  7. If he misses an e-mail or message asking for more documents, his application is void.
  8. There are more oddities that need streamlining.
  9. I hope this archaic, cumbersome online process, where the employer deals with different agencies instead of just one, is not a foretaste of our much-touted Smart Nation, with its promised seamless interactions between citizens and the Government.
  10. Employers already pay a hefty monthly levy; the ministry should proactively ease their burden by cutting its laborious application process and reducing the start-up fees of getting a domestic helper.

Provide seniors with non-digital options too

- The Straits Times, 19 March 2017

  1. I empathise with Mr David Lam Yan Choon's situation (Streamline online maid application process; March 11).
  2. I am a 70-year-old senior and had a frustrating experience when I renewed the work permit of my 105-year-old mother's helper.
  3. The last time I went through the process was more than two years ago, and I had used my mother's SingPass.
  4. Since that time, her password has had to be reset and two-factor authentication applied for.
  5. This required letters from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), an e-mail address and a mobile phone number. Since my mother had no e-mail address, and my e-mail address and mobile phone number were already linked to my SingPass, we had to use her postal address.
  6. The letters also took several working days to arrive. I obtained an extension of the work permit's expiry date when I realised that the renewal would take longer than I thought. However, despite this, I was bombarded with multiple MOM reminders, including one warning of the dire consequences of non-renewal.
  7. I tried to find out how to renew the work permit in person, but I got nowhere. It seems as if the MOM is trying to discourage this.
  8. Surely alternative solutions should be made available in situations like mine.
  9. It is not that seniors may find digital processes confusing (Bridging the elder digital divide; March 12) - I am managing all right for myself.
  10. The problem is when seniors need to cross the digital divide on behalf of their even more senior family members.
  11. This is a period when the aged are still with us, while their elderly children are coming to grips with digital tools. We cannot expect the aged generation to have mobile phones and e-mail addresses.