Skip to main content

Speech at Employment Agencies Seminar

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower, NTUC Auditorium

Mr Seah Seng Choon
Executive Director, Consumers Association of Singapore

Ms Chan Mui Sim
Vice President, Association of Employment Agencies Singapore

Colleagues from the recruitment industry

Ladies and gentlemen

  1. Good morning. I am pleased to join you at today’s Employment Agencies Seminar.

    Better matching leads to better outcomes
  2. Employment Agencies (EAs) have a very important role to play. You are the intermediary that helps job seekers and employers better understand their responsibilities and employment rules. You can help to make the match, a good one and get the relationship off to a good start. This is important because a good working relationship means higher productivity and, more importantly, greater harmony in the workplace.
  3. For EAs who are responsible for placing Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs), the need to ensure a good match becomes even more important. An FDW’s workplace is in the home. She takes care of our elderly and young children, cook our food, clean our rooms and live with our families. I am sure we can imagine how it will be like if the FDW and the employer cannot get along with one another.
  4. At MOM, we often receive feedback about how distressing it is for both employers and FDWs when the matching of expectations is not done well and causes the employment relationship to break down. When this happens, both the FDW and the family feel highly stressed. The FDW will end up losing her job while the employer struggles without help until a new FDW arrives. Hence, the important role that EAs play to help both employers and FDWs find a good match from the outset cannot be over-emphasised.
  5. Having a good understanding of the employer’s household needs, and the skills, preferences and limitations of the FDW will help EAs to better match the two. EAs should also help both employers and FDWs set clear expectations upfront and understand the need to exercise patience and good communication in order to iron out any differences. To execute this well, requires a certain level of professionalism and service standard on the part of EAs.

    Raising professionalism through Trustmark and Customer Rating
  6. To encourage EAs to enhance professionalism and success in placement, MOM will be introducing a mandatory grading scheme by the second half of 2017 for EAs who place FDWs. This will also address employers’ feedback for EAs to enhance their matching capabilities.
  7. Under this “Trustmark” scheme, all FDW EAs will need to be graded by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). They will be awarded a grade based on a set of criteria that CASE and MOM will jointly develop with the industry. The Trustmark criteria would include outcomes such as success in placing an FDW who completes her contract, employer’s satisfaction with EA, and established processes to help the matching process. We will be conducting consultation sessions with the industry over the next few months and will pilot the Trustmark scheme in later part of this year.
  8. MOM is developing an Employment Agency Customer Rating system to allow FDW employers to provide feedback on the service rendered by their EA. This is similar to other customer ratings available for service industries like hotels and restaurants, for example, Tripadvisor and HungryGowhere.
  9. After an FDW has been placed with an employer for a period of time, the FDW employer will be invited by MOM to rate the EA that has assisted in the hiring process. An aggregated rating will then be displayed on MOM’s Employment Agencies and Personnel Search eService. Results from the Employment Agency Customer Rating system could be factored into Trustmark scheme. We plan to introduce the rating system in the middle of this year. My colleagues will share with you more details during the briefing later.
  10. We hope that these two initiatives - the Trustmark scheme and the customer rating of EAs - will be an important input to help employers select an EA that meets their expectations. We also hope that they would encourage EAs to improve their service standards.

    FDWs and employers play a part towards good relationship
  11. Having the Trustmark will place the onus on EAs to better fulfil its duty of care. But while EAs can help to lay the right foundation for a good FDW-employer relationship through matching FDW skills to employer needs, both employer and FDW will also have to play their part to make the relationship work. Employers should give clear instructions on how work should be done while exercising patience, be understanding and ensure their FDWs’ well-being is not compromised. FDWs should be responsible at work, check with their employers if there are any issues or areas of uncertainty and not violate any laws and regulations. With the support and co-operation of all parties, we can make the FDW-employer relationship a stronger and more harmonious one.
  12. In closing, I look forward to your support so that we can improve the FDW recruitment landscape. I believe that together, we can transform the EA industry to one that is not only effective and efficient but also highly professional and well-regarded. Thank you and I wish you a good seminar.