Be transparent on costs for hiring Indonesian domestic helper, HR Ministry told

THE Human Resource Ministry must be transparent about the detailed cost breakdown for hiring a domestic helper under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indonesia that will be signed on April 1. 

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said it is widely believed that hiring an Indonesian domestic helper will cost RM15,000 despite the Government’s earlier statement that the cost would be capped at RM7,800. 

“Word on the streets is that the cost of hiring a domestic helper from Indonesia will now cost RM15,000 according to the Association of Employment Agencies president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi, citing that there was no way RM7,800 was an amount that they can work with,” she said in a statement. 

“By now, the general mood is that this amount is bound to skyrocket up to RM30,000 as cited by some agencies – and Malaysians are not surprised at this amount although sorely disappointed. 

“If indeed RM15,000 is inked as the amount to be paid, in lump sum, as the cost to hire a domestic helper from Indonesia, then what is the breakdown of the amount?”  

Kasthuri said that employment agencies are in the business of profiting from recruiting domestic helpers to be brought in to work in Malaysia. 

She added that over the years it appeared that these agencies had set the market rate at tens of thousands of ringgit despite the RM7,800 cap as mentioned by Human Resources Deputy Minister Datuk Awang Hashim on Wednesday (March 23). 

In a parliamentary reply to Kasthuri Awang had said that the cost for hiring domestic helpers from Indonesia was capped at RM7,800, with RM6,000 of it on the Malaysian part and RM1,800 on the Indonesian part. 

He had claimed that this was the “standard” amount paid by employers based on the Ninth Joint Working Group in September 2016. 

“[But] what assurance do Malaysians have that the proposed RM15,000 will not balloon into an exorbitant amount that will deem them helpless and unable to cough up and pay in lump sum to hire a domestic helper?” Kasthuri asked. 

 “How will families be able to afford domestic workers?” 

Kasthuri went on to remark that the COVID-19 pandemic with its “endless lockdowns” has severely impacted families and businesses financially. 

“This will make it very difficult for families that rely heavily on the help of domestic helpers to be able to afford them,” she noted. 

“How will single mothers and single fathers pay this amount for them to juggle their time and energy between work and home without this precious help? 

“How will families with both husbands and wives who are breadwinners for their families, families with ageing relatives or a special family member afford a domestic helper if it is capped at RM15,000 by the government but mushroom into something bigger later on?”  

Kasthuri was quick to point out that her questioning the hiring costs “is in no way undermining the amount of work, dedication and care” from domestic helpers. 

“The concern here is how much is being paid to the Malaysian and Indonesian Government agencies and how much to the hiring agencies and intermediaries, if any, as well as how much ends up being given to the domestic helpers themselves?” 

“I believe this is the crux of the issue here. The transparency of the amount set as the cost of hiring a domestic helper and who gets a slice of the pie and who goes home with crumbs,” she justified. 

“It is up to us to set this standard that we respect, protect and look after our domestic helpers as they would do the same for us.” 

The long-awaited signing of the MoU between Malaysia and Indonesia on the employment and protection of domestic workers has been postponed twice since the start of this year. 

Both countries are now looking to fix a new date to sign the MoU in early April. – March 29, 2022 

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