Migrant domestic worker levy concessions and support available for households
We refer to Ms Lu Yubin’s letter (“Disappointed by Government’s Operating Procedures”, 11 Oct), and regret her unpleasant experience in the transfer of employer and re-application for levy concession for the migrant domestic worker (MDW) who is caring for her disabled elder brother.
The Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) approved Ms Lu’s elder brother’s new levy concession application under the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) scheme within two weeks on 14 September 2022, and he started receiving concessionary rates from this date. As his disability status precedes the MDW’s transfer of employer to him, we will fully reimburse the non-concessionary rates charged before 14 September 2022.
The push for electronic payment is part of Government’s transformation efforts to provide end-to-end digital services to citizens. We recognise that there may be some who face difficulties accessing or using digital services. Our approach has been to support these individuals that need help or enable them to access services via alternative means. For example, we had earlier communicated to MDW employers that from 31 October 2022, we will allow MDW levy payments to be made by persons authorised by employers, such as their family members. More details will be shared on the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM)’s website. We encourage those who need help to reach out to us for assistance.
AIC and MOM have contacted Ms Lu to advise her on the reimbursement of the non-concessionary levy charges and MDW levy payments respectively. We thank Ms Lu for her feedback, and will continue to look into ways to enhance our services.
Chief, Grants Division
Agency for Integrated Care
Director, Controls, Compliance & Levy
Work Pass Division
Ministry of Manpower
Disappointed by Government department's operating procedure - Lianhe Zaobao 11 Oct 2022
About 10 years ago, my mother hired MDW to take care of my disabled elder brother who couldn't take care of himself. After she passed away in August, in order to let the MDW continue taking care of my brother, we had to apply online to change the name of the employer to his.
In mid-August, after receiving the approval email from MOM, we went through all the procedures, including re-applying for the MDW levy concession. Although the social worker of the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) told me there was no need to apply again when I asked about it, because the name of my elder brother was already in the system, but the MOM staff still advised me to re-apply, in case the AIC cancelled our levy concession because we changed employer for the MDW, and I would have to pay the levy of $300 instead of $60.
Unfortunately, what the MOM staff said happened. Although the application for the levy concession was also done while changing the employer of the MDW, AIC was slow in approving it, saying that more time was needed for a detailed review and evaluation. What puzzled me was that my elder brother had been certified by a doctor to be permanently disabled as early as 10 years ago, and he could not take care of himself. Moreover, the same MDW was hired to take care of the same patient. Why were one or two months needed in checking an old case that hadn't changed? AIC reasoned that the applicant was only 64 years old and did not meet the requirement of being 67 or older. When questioned why there was an age limit, they could not answer. The AIC website also did not clearly state the reason. Was it true that applicants under the age of 67, if there was a disabled person in the family who needed to be taken care of by an MDW, could not enjoy the MDW levy concession?
After several arguments with AIC, they finally compromised. However, we received a text message in early October that MOM asked us to pay an MDW levy of $122.49. We called to inquire, and MOM said that due to the delay in receiving the approval notice from AIC, the MDW levy for the first nine days was calculated based on the monthly levy amount of $300. AIC’s approval was delayed, but we had to pay the bill. Did this make sense?
Also, I had been told that the GIRO payment I applied for in September would not take effect until mid-November, so I was currently paying levy via online banking or PayNow. Cheques, credit cards, AXS terminals or cash payments in person at MOM would not be accepted. There were penalties for delays in paying levy.
I had no confidence in online banking because I had read too many phishing scams and the news that banking websites had been hacked, so I did not apply for online banking, and of course PayNow. If I waited until the GIRO payment to take effect, I would definitely be fined. Then MOM could easily deduct the fine from my bank account.
Why did Government departments make things difficult for Singaporeans who did not use online banking? They did not give other choices to Singaporeans who were not familiar with or had no confidence in online banking. If online banking was safe and convenient, there would be no constant queues outside the banks.
Singapore was entering an ageing society. With the number of elderly people increasing year by year, it was more humane to keep some traditional payment methods. What was more, cyber attacks might occur at any time; network failures or interruptions in current, and even major power outages might occur. Therefore, I thought it was necessary to keep some other reliable traditional payment methods. After all, it was better safe than sorry.