Agencies call for government to lift foreign maid blockade

JOHOR BARU: Maid agencies here are hoping the government will allow foreign maids back into the country soon to clear their huge backlog of bookings for domestic helpers.

An owner of a maid agency in Skudai, who wanted to be known as Foo, said since the first movement control order and border closures on March 18 last year, agencies had not been able to bring in any new maids into Malaysia.

He said their hands were tied even though there was a steady stream of calls and enquiries from potential employers looking for maids to care of their elderly parents or children, or to help them with housework.

“I still receive enquiries almost every day from people who want to hire a new maid or are looking for a replacement for their existing maid.

“I am concerned that this shortage of maids could result in people hiring illegal domestic helpers, who are not properly trained and did not go through the necessary health inspections, out of desperation,” he said when contacted.

Foo, who has been running his agency for more than seven years, said some employers were willing to pay monthly wages of between RM2,000 and RM2,500 for a domestic helper due to the shortage, compared to the standard RM1,300 rate before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is especially so for employers whose maids’ permits are expiring soon, in hopes of attracting them to stay on as it is very difficult to get a new maid these days,” he said.

A maid agency employee who wanted to be known only as Jessica said there were more than 100 bookings on her agency’s waiting list for a domestic helper.

She said some customers had been waiting to get a maid from either Indonesia or Philippines since before March last year due to the long application process, and the maids could not get here in time before travel restrictions were imposed.

“We are hoping for a positive government directive that allows us to bring in new domestic helpers soon.

“With more people working from home due to the pandemic, we understand their need to have an extra pair of hands to help with their children and household chores.

“Our customers do not mind footing the bill for the quarantine and Covid-19 screening if it means that they are able to get a domestic helper, and for their family’s own safety,” she added.

Jessica said her agency started receiving fresh bookings last month, from employers who wanted to get a head start in the application process so that the documents could be submitted to the relevant authorities immediately once the government allows the hiring of foreign maids again.

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