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26 maid agencies in S'pore under probe for pay deductions
Publication Date : 19-08-2014
The Philippines is investigating 26 maid agencies in Singapore accused of collecting placement fees that have been banned.
The move followed a petition submitted to labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz by the Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies to Singapore (Alras), a group which represents 120 of around 150 Philippine recruitment firms that supply maids to Singapore.
Alras accused the Singapore agencies of taking an equivalent of eight months' pay from maids they recruit, or up to US$3,053, as placement fees.
The collection of such fees, which include airfare and training costs, was banned by Manila in 2007.
Among the agencies named in Alras' list were Homekeeper and Budget Maid, which the Philippines last month suspended from hiring Filipinos.
Alras accused Homekeeper of charging up to US$1,607, and Budget Maid as much as US$3,053.
Mark Chin, a director of Homekeeper, rejected the accusation.
"We are only charging the maids two months of their salary in recruitment fees, which is in line with MOM guidelines," he said, referring to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower.
The ministry allows employment agencies to deduct as placement fees a month's worth of salary for every year in a maid's work permit.
Since a work permit is usually valid for two years, the agencies can deduct at most two months of a maid's salary.
Baldoz told The Straits Times that whatever action to be taken against the agencies in Alras' list - which could include a ban - will depend on the outcome of the investigations.
Alras has been campaigning to limit salary deductions to two months, if an outright ban on placement fees is not possible because of Singapore's regulations.
In September last year, it suspended sending maids to Singapore to press for a ban on placement fees.
But it resumed business a month later after it received commitments from 60 per cent of some 300 Singapore agencies that they would stop taking placement fees or keep them to two months' pay.
But now Alras says it has received reports that "a sizeable number" of Singapore agencies "continue to exact illegal fees" from Filipino maids.
More than half of around 180,000 Filipinos in Singapore work as maids. They earn anywhere from US$321.38 to US$482.07 a month, six times more than the US$60.26 a household helper in the Philippines makes.
- See more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/philippines/story/26-maid-agencies-under-probe-over-unauthorised-pay-deduc#sthash.41qHC10r.dpuf