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    Jan 21, 2016

    Filipino maids' minimum salary increases to $550

    EMPLOYERS will have to pay at least $550 a month to employ a Filipino maid, up from $500 - the first rise in three years.

    This comes three months after the Indonesian embassy here told agents that the minimum salary for maids from its country must be $550 a month, also up from $500.

    Although there was no official announcement from the Philippines side, employment agents here told The Straits Times that employment contracts submitted at the embassy last week had been rejected because the salaries were too low.

    The minimum salary for maids set by the Philippines government had been US$400 for over a decade. To avoid exchange rate fluctuations, the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEAS) had an agreement more than three years ago with the Philippine Embassy here that it would be set at $500 locally, said AEAS president K. Jayaprema.

    As the US dollar has strengthened - US$400 is now worth around $570 - the change is not unexpected, she added.

    "Salaries do increase over time, it is a natural progression," noted Ms Jayaprema.

    She added that while some groups of helpers such as those doing caregiving and eldercare roles were already paid above $600 due to better qualifications, the majority still received around $500 a month.

    The association represents the majority of the maid agents in Singapore.

    The Philippine Embassy's labour attache could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    There are about 70,000 Filipino maids here, out of a total of around 227,100 maids.

    Just two months ago, the embassy tightened restrictions on Filipinos coming to Singapore to work as domestic workers, as it started processing only five employment contracts per employment agency each week.

    A few months earlier, it halved the number of job orders, which are the number of workers an agency can recruit at one time, allocated to each employment agency.

    A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower said Singapore does not have a national minimum wage.

    "Employment agencies and employers who wish to recruit foreign domestic workers should consider requirements administered by foreign governments or embassies carefully when making their hiring decisions."

    The latest change may cause some delays for employers waiting for their employment contracts to be approved, said Ms Jayaprema.

    Some agents will have to reapply for a work permit with the new salary and redo other paperwork such as the security bond.