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    Mar 10, 2016

    Employers to get a say too under 2 schemes

    MAID agencies will be rated - by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore's consumer watchdog and employers - in two new schemes meant to raise their service standards.

    The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and MOM will grade agencies in the first scheme, called Trustmark, which will be rolled out by December next year.

    Assessment criteria will be decided by the two organisations through industry consultations. It will be administered by Case.

    Agencies will need to be graded before they are allowed to renew their licences, said Minister of State (Manpower) Sam Tan at an industry seminar yesterday.

    They will also have to display their grading certificates prominently in their premises.

    Mr Tan said the ministry often receives complaints about how distressing it is for employers and maids when their expectations are not well matched.

    "When this happens, both the (maid) and the family feel highly stressed," he added.

    Maid agencies have a vital role to play here, as they have to understand an employer's household needs before matching them with a maid, he noted.

    In the second scheme, to be implemented by June, employers will be invited by SMS to rate an agency whose services they have used three or four months ago through an online survey that should take less than a minute to complete.

    Employer feedback for each agency will be made public on the ministry's website after at least three ratings have been consolidated for that agency.

    Maid agencies are now listed on MOM's website with their number of years of experience, number of maids they placed, their retention and transfer rate. The website also lists industry averages.

    When the new initiatives are rolled out, employers will be able to see on MOM's website the grade and rating each agency received.

    Carene Chin, who runs maid agency Homekeeper, said, with the new initiatives, she will focus not just on matching maids to employers but also before and after-sale services.

    These include providing correct biodata, ensuring the maid has no teething problems after she moves in and that she is paid on time. "Employers are not our only customers, maids are too," Ms Chin said.

    The Centre for Domestic Employees, an arm of the labour movement, welcomes the Trustmark scheme.

    Its executive director for operations, Phyllis Lim, said it will foster more transparent and fair employment and recruitment practices.

    Jolovan Wham, executive director of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, urged MOM to include maids' feedback on agencies when rating them as they, too, are paying customers.

    Employers are cheered by the schemes. Operations executive Benson Wong, 32, who employed a maid last month to take care of his two-year-old son, said: "If I am not happy with the agency's service, I know how to make my concerns heard."