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MOM to facilitate maid approvals for households with healthcare workers

MOM to facilitate maid approvals for households with healthcare workers

A domestic worker with an elderly person in Singapore. (File photo: TODAY/Illi Nadhirah Mansor)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will facilitate the entry of foreign domestic workers for households with healthcare workers, even as the ministry increases the number of entry approvals.

Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang gave this update in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 2), in response to a question from Member of Parliament Wan Rizal (PAP-Jalan Besar), who had asked if MOM would consider prioritising maid approvals for households with healthcare workers.                                                      

Monthly arrivals of foreign domestic workers in Singapore fell almost fourfold from May this year due to more stringent rules to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

From May to October, an average of 900 maids entered Singapore every month, compared to the monthly average of 3,400 from January to April, Ms Gan said.

"The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recognises that there are still many families waiting for approval for their migrant domestic workers (MDWs) to enter Singapore," Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 2).

As the regional COVID-19 situation improves, MOM is able to give more entry approvals, she added. More foreign domestic workers will be able to enter Singapore in the coming months if the COVID-19 situation continues to stabilise locally and regionally, she said. 

MOM opened up new applications for the entry of fully vaccinated domestic workers on Oct 15.
 
Due to the high demand for entry, MOM will continue to prioritise families with more urgent care needs, Ms Gan said.

“We will also facilitate the entry of MDWs of households with healthcare workers so that the healthcare workers can better focus on their frontline work,” she added. 

Employers who are not successful may wish to access the application portal in subsequent weeks as entry slots are periodically made available, she said.  

In addition to the question from Dr Wan Rizal, MPs Ang Wei Neng (PAP-West Coast), Ms Mariam Jaafar (PAP-Sembawang) and Mr Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) also submitted questions on the issue of domestic workers.                                                                                                                

There are “several thousands” of domestic workers waiting to enter Singapore in the next three months, Ms Gan said in response to a follow-up question from Mr Ang. 

“The more important point is how we are able to gradually increase the entry of MDWs while protecting public health in Singapore,” she said. 

COMMERCIAL PROGRAMME BY INDUSTRY BODY

Households that require domestic workers urgently may wish to consider the commercial programme by the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEAS), she said. 

Domestic workers who already possess the documentation can be onboarded onto the programme within a week, and there are slots available, she added.

The association and its partner employment agencies will adjust the programme according to demand to complement the entry of workers through the mainstream channel, Ms Gan said. 

As of end-October, the AEAS initiative has facilitated the entry of more than 1,000 domestic workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar, Ms Gan said.

“Given feedback from employment agencies, AEAS will also be expanding the scheme to India. The fees charged vary across employment agencies, service providers and home countries of MDWs,” she said.

She added that households in financial difficulty can apply for a waiver of costs of local COVID-19 tests and local stay-home notice accommodation for newly arrived workers.

With more entry approvals in the coming months, the demand for transfer maids is expected to ease, she said, adding that the number of transfers has remained “stable” over the past months.

The average monthly salary of a transfer domestic worker was S$630 last year, and increased to S$660 as of September 2021, she said. 

“MOM recognises that the past months have been challenging for families,” she said, adding that the ministry will continuously review the entry numbers with the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force “with a view to try to fulfil the needs as quickly as possible”.

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Source: CNA/ja(ac)

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