Doubts over maid hiring fees

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Doubts also that 10,000 maids would be entering the country after Hari Raya.

It would be ideal if the recruitment fee to hire an Indonesian maid could be lower than RM15,000, but local maid agencies are doubtful that this can be achieved. Industry players responded sceptically to a statement by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan that the cost to hire a maid from the Malaysian recruitment’s end would fall from RM9,000 to RM6,000 per maid.

Saravanan also foresees Indonesian recruitment counterparts lowering their current fees of RM4,000 to RM5,000 for each maid.

He said the first batch of maids from Indonesia totalling about 10,000 people was expected to arrive in the country after Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia vice-president Suresh Tan questioned whether the price to bring in a maid could be reduced by such a drastic amount.

Before the pandemic, Tan said Indonesian agents were selling each maid’s biodata for between RM10,000 and RM12,000.

He believed the price of each Indonesian maid’s biodata was now expected to increase as costs had risen due to Covid-19 testing procedures.

“Whenever the price goes up, it hardly ever comes down. Once it goes up, it goes up because there will always be takers.

“Pricing is not in the hands of the Malaysian agencies. It is from the supply country,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Tan called on Saravanan to give a clearer breakdown of the cost of hiring a maid, adding that there were two major parts to the process – the charges by the Indonesian recruitment agents and the fees imposed by the local maid hiring agencies.

There are also government-imposed fees in the package.

Tan said Saravanan could not simply announce that the cost of hiring a maid from the Malaysian side would fall from RM9,000 to RM6,000.

He also expressed disbelief that 10,000 maids would be entering the country after Hari Raya when the online system to submit applications for maids was not ready.

“I don’t know where the minister got the data from but as far as we are concerned, all our members are in a dilemma because the online system is not even ready,” he said.

National Association of Human Resources Malaysia (Pusma) president Zarina Ismail was also doubtful that the recruitment fee could be lower than RM15,000.

“It does not seem to be a realistic number. We hope it can come true as mentioned by the minister, but we will wait for further discussions with our Indonesian counterpart using this statement.

“We want the ministry to prove that the number is viable for the recruitment of a domestic worker. I don’t see this figure based on our discussion with the Indonesian agencies,” she added.

According to a source, there is a clause in the recently signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malaysia and Indonesia stating that any additional cost can still be added to the cost of hiring a domestic worker.

When asked about domestic workers coming into the country after Hari Raya, Zarina was not confident of the arrival timeline because the massive amount of preparation – such as the issuance of job orders from Malaysia to Indonesia – had not even taken place.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein said the reduction from RM9,000 to RM6,000 was only feasible if an employer obtained a domestic worker on his own.

“If they allow individuals to do it by themselves, the fee seems reasonable. But we still do not know what the Indonesian agencies are coming up with.

“In terms of the RM7,000 household income condition, I think the majority of Malaysians cannot afford a helper. You have to understand that they are providing food, lodging and salary for them, so there is a lot of cost involved,” he said.

On whether the domestic workers were likely to come into Malaysia after Hari Raya, Engku Ahmad said that was a question only the government could answer. – The Star