Philippine start banning domestic helper export- Malaysia affected

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - The shortage of maids is set to get worse with the Philippine embassy here tightening the rules for new agencies to bring in maids from the country.

The changes come in the wake of the Philippine government's decision last week to phase out the sending of its citizens overseas to work as domestic helpers.

Sources in the industry said the embassy was no longer giving accreditation to new maid agencies.

However, the embassy's labor attach Dr Alicia Santos, told The Star that accreditation for new recruitment agencies to bring in Filipino domestic helpers had not been stopped but it would not be easy to get as before.

"Not everyone who applies will get the endorsement. We are becoming stricter to ensure that agencies abide by all requirements and terms," she said.

Dr Santos said existing agencies could continue operating but the embassy was conducting a thorough assessment on all of them.

"Many agencies which pledged to follow regulations have not been keeping to their word," she added.

Dr Santos said there had also been discussions on imposing a moratorium, but nothing had been finalized.

On whether accredited agencies would be stripped of their status if they were found to have breached rules, she said the matter was still being discussed with higher authorities.

"The major issues faced with employment agencies here concern payment of salaries as well as the welfare and protection of our citizens," she said.

Last week, the Philippine government directed the Overseas Employment Agency to reduce the deployment of Filipinas to work as hired help in foreign households, in stages, over the next five years.

The programme to slow down and stop the migration of domestic workers abroad is aimed at protecting Filipinas from abuses.

The phase-out plan would affect about 180 countries where Filipinas work as maids or nannies.

However, the Philippine government said it might allow such workers to parts of Europe where salaries were high for certain types of domestic labour.

The Philippine embassy here cited the country's improved economy and the availability of quality jobs at home as the reasons for the decision.

It said those seeking jobs as domestic workers were often over-qualified, adding that Philippines preferred to send only skilled and semi-skilled workers abroad.

Dr Santos said the demand for Filipina maids in Malaysia had increased since 2009 as they were highly trained in performing household chores and could speak English.

The minimum wage for Filipina domestic workers is set at US$400 (S$502) per month, compared with between RM600 and RM800 for Indonesians.

The number of Filipina domestic workers in the country reportedly rose from 4,000 in 2009 to about 10,000 currently.

According to the Philippines' Overseas Employment Agency records, 499,495 household service workers went abroad over the past six years.

More than 70,000 of them secured jobs overseas in the first half of this year.

asiaone

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