SINGAPORE: About 3,200 appeals to waive the stay-home notice accommodation costs for foreign domestic workers were approved over the last 10 months, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 16).
This accounts for about 13 per cent of the 25,000 entry requests approved for foreign domestic workers to enter Singapore between April last year and January this year, said Ms Gan.
The domestic workers who were allowed into Singapore either took on work with new employers, or replaced maids who had returned to their home countries, she added.
The appeals were “carefully reviewed”, taking into consideration factors such as the household income and financial circumstances of the applicants.
As part of efforts to stem the transmission of COVID-19, most new foreign domestic workers coming into Singapore have to serve a stay-home notice in dedicated facilities.
They must also take a COVID-19 test before their stay-home notice is over.
Employment agencies told CNA last month that costs for stay-home notice facilities can come up to about S$1,500, while COVID-19 tests cost about S$200 each.
One agency estimated that costs for employers had almost doubled, from S$2,500 to about S$4,800.
READ: Demand for new maids high despite extra costs amid COVID-19 restrictions, risk of imported cases
Ms Gan - who is also Minister of State for Education - was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Gan Thiam Poh (PAP - Ang Mo Kio), who had asked how many Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) had appealed for such a waiver.
Mr Gan had also asked how many citizens and PRs who were unsuccessful in their application for domestic workers to enter Singapore had submitted appeals.
“About 600 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents whose initial applications were not successful submitted appeals, and about 500 succeeded eventually,” said Ms Gan.
The population of foreign domestic workers in Singapore has remained “largely stable” at around 250,000, she added.
Since Feb 5, foreign domestic workers and confinement nannies with recent travel history to higher-risk countries or regions have had to take an on-arrival serology test, in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The serology test allows authorities to identify workers who have recovered from an old COVID-19 infection and have antibodies, enabling them to be released from stay-home notice and lowering costs for their employers.