Singapore—The country is experiencing a shortage of domestic helpers at present, with the demand for maids exceeding the supply, according to a report from TODAY Online on Sunday (Oct 4).
For many households, having a domestic helper is no longer a luxury but a necessity, especially in two-income households, as well as those belonging to the ‘sandwich generation,’ individuals who find themselves attending not only to the needs of their children but also to those of their ageing parents.
In these cases, an extra pair of hands to take care of domestic duties is more than welcome.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into the situation for some households, and the report says that Singaporeans are having more difficulty finding domestic helpers.
Some families are even quoted as paying beyond the typical monthly range of S$450 to S$600 for their newly-hired helpers, with one expectant father agreeing to pay S$750 monthly to a domestic helper from the Philippines to work for his family.
TODAY reported that employment agencies are reporting a lack of maids due to the decreased number of domestic workers coming from overseas as well as current employers extending helpers’ contracts, since finding a replacement for their maids is proving to be difficult at the moment. This was according to a director at the Nation Human Resources maid agency, Brian Tan.
One reason for this is that flight schedules are still not guaranteed, with many getting rescheduled or even cancelled.
When agencies are given approval by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for a domestic helper to enter the country, they are also given three dates for the helper to arrive.
The problem is that “there is no guarantee that the workers would be able to exit the source country,” according to Mr Tan.
And if the flight schedule is changed, the new date given for the domestic helper to enter Singapore may no longer be within the timeframe given by MOM for the helper’s entry, rendering it invalid.
He offered a suggestion for MOM to allow for more flexibility that would benefit both employers and domestic helpers, saying, “Perhaps the Ministry of Manpower could keep the timeframe open for a longer period to accommodate such last-minute cancellations by airline companies.”
According to the director of another agency, Mr Mark Chin, there have been fewer applications for domestic helpers coming in, confirming that the demand is greater than the supply, again an effect of the coronavirus pandemic, as countries such as Indonesia are still under lockdown.
TODAY quotes him as saying, “We could have a few hundred resumes a month in the past from various nationalities, but now it’s just 20 or 30.”
Employers are at a risk of losing the S$1,700 they pay authorities for stay-home notice accommodation and swab tests when the domestic helpers they contract to work for them end up testing positive before they leave or do not get test results on time.
TODAY reports that employers are required to pay these fees even if the helper ends up not coming to Singapore, unless the employment agency applies to cancel the entry approval at least five days before the helper is scheduled to arrive, with some agencies saying some of their applications have been rejected. —/TISG