Employers of new Indonesian domestic workers in S’pore to bear placement fee of up to S$3,000; netizens question if ruling will result in “lose-lose situation” for helpers and employers

Starting next month, employers of new Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore will be required to bear a placement fee of up to S$3,000.

The New Paper on Thursday (17 December) reported a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman as saying that according to feedback from employment agencies in Singapore, the Indonesian authorities are enforcing a “zero placement fee policy” from 1 January next year.

The new policy would mean that the one-time fee — meant to fund several expenses such as the domestic worker’s transportation, accommodation and medical examinations — will no longer be paid for by deducting the worker’s salary for months.

This will then allow new Indonesian domestic workers to work in Singapore debt-free.

Several netizens commenting on The Straits’ Times‘ Facebook post — on an ST article that reproduced the TNP article — however, questioned if the Indonesian authorities’ new policy will work to the detriment of Indonesian domestic helpers, as employers may “source out” helpers from other countries such as Myanmar and the Philippines.

This may even lead to a reversal of the policy in the future, they said.

A couple of commenters opined that agents are highly likely to benefit from the Indonesian authorities’ new policy.

The Indonesian authorities’ ruling, commented one netizen, is not a surefire way to deter their nationals from leaving their domestic helper jobs in the event that they seek to return to their home country.

They questioned who will bear the cost of repatriation if such a situation arises.

“MOM shld do something to help us employers too. Gives us assurance that these maids wont play us out. And tht they have to bare all cost if they breach their 2yrs contract,” they said.

One commenter suggested that if a helper would like to transfer to another employer, they ought to “pay prorated agent’s fee”.

One commenter opined that middle-class couples typically need to employ migrant domestic workers as “both spouses need to work to earn a living for the family”.

If they will continuously be taxed for employing migrant domestic workers, then the helpers “will have no jobs eventually”, the commenter said.

One commenter questioned why the policy is not extended to all migrant workers, as they also “pay their agent few thousands range fr 3-8k sgd” to work in Singapore.

An Indonesian domestic worker expressed her disappointment with the new regulation by her home country’s authorities, stressing that “they did not ask our opinion”.

While acknowledging that the ruling may benefit Indonesian domestic workers like her as they will not be “overcharged for fee replacement”, she is apprehensive that they may lose their marketability in Singapore, as employers will “definitely” opt for “cheap helper”.

One commenter praised the move, stating that it does not “make sense for any domestic helper to set foot on a foreign land and incur a high debt”.

One commenter suggested that both the Indonesian domestic workers and their employers should each “pay half the placement fee” to reduce burdens on both sides.

One commenter said in jest that they are waiting for “the maturity of AI (artificial intelligence)”.

“Will only have problems with the AI provider(s) And electricity consumption,” they said.

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