Thursday, August 15, 2013

Malaysia to still get Indonesian maids, but not as live-ins after 2017

Indonesia will continue to send housemaids to Malaysia after 2017 but employed by agencies which will house them and contract them to work in households under a new proposal from Jakarta to prevent abuse.

The Indonesian Embassy labour attache in Kuala Lumpur, Agus Triyanto, told The Malaysian Insider that the move was in line with the Indonesian Domestic Worker Roadmap 2017.

“This will mean the maids will live outside the employer's house. They will only do housework and nothing else.

“We want to put a halt to 'live-in' maids and introduce a 'live-out' system to protect our people against abuse from employers,” Agus said, clarifying reports that Indonesia will no longer send maids to Malaysia after 2017.

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Malaysia employs some 220,000 housemaids from Indonesia followed by Hong Kong (152,000) and Singapore (90,000) but a number of high-profile abuse cases has led to Indonesia reviewing the supply to these countries.

“We also want to implement a maximum working hour. Now you have maids that start work at 5am and do not stop till 1am. This is exploitation,” he said, adding the minimum wage will remain at RM700 a month.

He said the roadmap and proposals will provide more protection and autonomy to maids.

The move to empower Indonesian maids had already started with a memorandum of understanding between both countries to allow housekeepers to have a day off in a week, own a bank account and hold their own passports.

For housemaids currently in Malaysia, Agus said the embassy in Kuala Lumpur would handle their extensions in stages in 2017.

But he said they had not finalised arrangements for maids who wanted to continue with their current employers beyond that year.

“We do not have a concrete plan yet on how we would deal with the present housemaids but hopefully they can be transferred to maid agencies.

"The agency can then contract them out to households, ” said Agus, adding this was one of the options available to them.

Stricter rules would also apply, with maids asked to only clean the house, cook, wash and iron clothes, the labour attache said.

Agus pointed out that maids sent to Malaysia were "not trained to be caregivers, caretakers or baby sitters”.

Since maids sent here are not taught how to babysit or nurse the elderly, Agus said Indonesia was asking Malaysians to separately hire domestic workers accredited with skills to deal with different functions.

Among the six countries where Indonesia sent most of its housemaids, Malaysia and Brunei have the lowest requirements needed from employees in terms of hours clocked-in for training, education and languages spoken.

But he was not worried that Malaysians would be unable to bear the brunt of hiring more than one domestic worker to handle different roles in a household.

“If Malaysians cannot afford to pay more, why are there still some 15,000 Filipino maids here?” Agus asked.

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