Direct maid hiring policy will not lower costs, says Pikap

Raja-Zulkepley-Dahalan-3KUALA LUMPUR: The National Association of Employment Agencies (Pikap) doubts that Putrajaya’s proposed policy to allow maids to be recruited directly from their home countries without a middleman or agent would significantly reduce the employer’s overall cost.

Its president Raja Zulkepley Dahalan said it is impossible to cut down the cost by 50% without engaging the government of the source country and the local agents there.

“We don’t even know if the governments of the nine countries are agreeable with this approach, especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia which are the main suppliers,” he said.

“If these three do not agree, the implications of the policy would not be good for the employers here and for our country,” he told a press conference at the Pikap office here today.

Raja Zulkepley (left) and Indonesian Manpower Services Association secretary general Kausar N. Tanjung meet to discuss the latest policy on the hiring of foreign domestic workers.

He claimed that just to obtain a maid’s biodata fom her country cost up to RM10,000. This does not include other costs, such as for travel documents which would need at least RM4,000 more, he added.

“If these factors are not considered and tackled, it would be impossible for the overall cost to be lowered.”

He was commenting on Prime Minister’s Najib Razak’s announcement while tabling Budget 2018 in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday that the government would allow employers to hire foreign domestic helpers from nine selected countries directly without any agents.

Najib, who is finance minister, had said that the government was aware of the high cost incurred in hiring the workers, with the current cost reaching as high as RM12,000 to RM18,000.

He said employers may subsequently apply online for a foreign domestic helper’s visa from the immigration department with the current levy and processing fees in place.

On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said with the new policy the cost of hiring a maid would be cut by up to 50%.

Zulkepley however said the policy would also not guarantee that the welfare of the worker is protected as she could get cheated.

Unwanted issues like non-payment of wages and sexual abuse could arise, he said, adding that there were also concerns about rural women being lured as maids to become victims of human trafficking.

He added that an employer here could also register a foreign woman as a domestic helper with the intention of making her his wife.

“Many employers may also be vulnerable to being cheated, for example by deceptive agents in the foreign countries,” he said.

Zulkeply said he would write to Najib or the relevant minister for a meeting to discuss the new policy.

“We see more negatives than positives in the policy if it is implemented next year,” he said