Fleecing with maid fees

PETALING JAYA: Those seeking to hire Indonesian domestic helpers may end up paying extra “hidden costs” on top of the RM15,000 price cap, according to employment consultants.

National Human Resources Association Malaysia (Pusma) president Zarina Ismail said that although the price cap imposed by the government is reasonable, some agencies may be charging extra for additional services they have to bear.

“Agencies are responsible for the maids they bring in and this responsibility lasts for the entire contract period or until the maid is sent back.

“As such, the agencies will be on call 24/7 for employers with some even calling to complain at 1am,” she said when contacted yesterday.

She also noted the extra charges may also be due to the risks which some agencies are taking following the recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Malaysia and Indonesia for the sourcing of domestic helpers.

“The situation is still unclear as the One Channel System (OCS) is not fully operational yet.

“Some agencies are taking a wait-and-see attitude and are not keen in sourcing Indonesian domestic helpers at the moment,” she said.

She said Indonesian maids who are already in the country and who want to renew their contracts must now get an endorsement from an employment agency.

“There is a risk for the agency endorsing such maids as some may lack proper details under the previous contracts,” she added.

However, she said agencies that are charging above the cap prices risk action being taken against them by the authorities.

Owing to the uncertainty, she said that interest in domestic helpers from the Philippines has increased in recent months.

She said there were about 500 applications for Filipino maids last month compared to the usual 100 to 200 applications in previous months.

She added that employers are willing to pay between RM15,000 and RM17,500 to hire Filipino maids who are considered more reliable.

It was recently highlighted by The Star that some agencies were charging between RM17,695.08 and RM23,300 for maids.

This comes after the price for hiring Indonesian domestic helpers was capped at RM15,000 following the recent MOU between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Julian Tan, a consulting director of an employment agency, acknowledged that some agencies may be charging above the cap price for Indonesian maids.

“Some feel that the profit margin is too low and charge extra for the risks and effort involved in obtaining an Indonesian maid,” he said.

He said that RM17,500 would be a more reasonable sum for agencies to charge employers seeking to hire Indonesian maids.

Tan said he has stopped dealing with Indonesian domestic helpers and has shifted focus to those from the Philippines.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia vice-president Suresh Tan said domestic workers from both Indonesia and Philippines both have their own unique skill sets, which appeal to employers.

“Both are very capable of carrying out household chores and other duties.

“Language-wise, Malaysians may prefer those from the Philippines as they are able to speak English, whereas Indonesians are exceptionally good at cleaning.

“Filipinas are meanwhile better skilled at caring for children and the elderly due to their culture while Indonesians’ cooking skills may be better suited for the Malaysian palate,” he said.

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