New bond for Indonesian helpers 'urgently necessary' to protect them: Indonesian Embassy

New bond for Indonesian helpers 'urgently necessary' to protect them: Indonesian Embassy

maid file photo
File photo of a foreign domestic worker.

SINGAPORE: The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore said on Wednesday (May 9) that it is "urgently necessary" for a new S$6,000 performance bond to be implemented on employers who hire Indonesian domestic helpers, as the move will allow it to "better protect" these migrant workers.

The embassy encounters many issues faced by its migrant workers in Singapore, it told Channel NewsAsia in response to queries. 

Last year, it handled 1,579 cases from migrant workers who reported a range of issues including sexual and physical abuse, salaries being delayed for several months, being made to work for up to 20 hours a day and not being allowed to perform prayers.

"The numbers only reflect the tip of the iceberg," the embassy said.

"Many Indonesian domestic workers are reluctant to report any misconduct of their employers and/or agencies because they feel afraid or they are not aware of their rights," said the embassy. 

"This is urgent and the embassy perceives that it is urgently necessary to implement the new regulation in the form of performance bond," it added.

There are more than 120,000 Indonesian migrant workers in Singapore.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) called the new performance bond requirement by the Indonesian Embassy "unnecessary", saying that Singapore already has a "comprehensive regulatory framework to protect all FDWs (foreign domestic workers)". 

The performance bond requirement, which is separate from the S$5,000 security bond required by MOM, was supposed to take effect from February 2018, MOM said in an FAQ on its website. 

The new requirement will affect employers who are hiring new Indonesian FDWs, but only if they are asked by the employment agency to purchase the bond.

Existing employers of Indonesian FDWs who are processing documents - for example for renewal of passports - for their helpers at the embassy may also be asked to purchase the bond.

Indonesia is the second country to impose the performance bond requirement on FDWs in Singapore. Employers of Filipino helpers have had to furnish either a S$2,000 or a S$7,000 bond to the Philippines Embassy here since 1996. 

PERFORMANCE BOND WILL BE FORFEITED ONLY AS LAST RESORT

The Indonesian Embassy clarified on Wednesday that the performance bond is bound to the employment contract, which comprises the following clauses: A minimum salary of S$500 per month, four off days in a month, three nutritious meals a day, the right of FDWs to care for her own personal belongings, permission to perform religious prayers, payment for medical fees, and making sure that FDWs are not allowed to perform tasks that may risk their lives, such as cleaning the exterior of windows.

However, the embassy will not automatically forfeit the bond, even if any one of those clauses is breached, it told Channel NewsAsia.

"We will conduct a mediation between both parties and in the case of any police or employment cases, the measure will be taken after the decision/verdict is issued (either by Court or Police or MOM)," it said.

"The performance bond will only be the last resort if after mediations, and the employer is not cooperative," said the embassy. 

Source: CNA/na(aj)

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