Tough time for maid agencies

Many agencies fears they may not be able to bring in new helpers when permits of those still around expire.

WITH international borders still closed and most foreign domestic helpers having expiring work permits, maid agency operators are having a harder time staying afloat these days.

Job agency consulting director Julian Tan said many maid agencies had closed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It used to be a good business as many needed domestic helpers.

“But with the borders still closed due to the pandemic, domestic help is hard to come by.

“Many foreign domestic helpers with expired permits have also left,” he said.

Tan said he knew of places in Penang that used to house maid agencies but have since been put up for sale.

“Many people who have paid deposits for foreign domestic helpers are in limbo as some of these agencies have closed down.

“The agencies cannot survive as there has been no income for quite awhile. Their only means of business is dealing with foreign maids.

“There is no other income for these operators unless they managed to venture into other businesses if they are lucky,” he said.

Tan said his company, where he is a partner in, was barely able to survive.

“We are using our savings to stay afloat for now, but we are not sure how much longer can we go on like this.

“We hope the authorities will expedite talks with their foreign counterparts to allow us to bring in the domestic helpers,” he said.

Tan said there was a high demand for foreign domestic helpers as people have resumed working and economic sectors have reopened.

“This means parents need help to care for their children but there is no help coming in,” he said.

An agent, who wished to be known as Lim, said his agency was facing a similar problem.

“There is more demand now but we are not allowed to bring in any new foreign domestic helper.

“My fears are that when the permits expire for those helpers who are still here with us, I may not be able to bring in any new ones.

“This will definitely reduce my income as we have regular customers all this while,” said Lim, who runs an hourly cleaning service with the help of 10 foreign domestic helpers.

He said last year, many people were afraid to let the helpers into their homes due to the pandemic.

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