Wednesday, 28 November 2012

New bosses must sign maid safety form from 1 Dec 2012

Employers have to ensure maids follow safety rules while cleaning windows
By Amelia Tan, The Straits Times, 27 Nov 2012

EMPLOYERS hiring maids from Dec 1 will have to sign an agreement to ensure their maids follow new safety guidelines when they clean the exterior of windows at their homes.

Maids and agents will also be required to sign the form drawn up by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). But employers who are renewing a maid's work permit will not have to sign the form.

Maid agents were notified of the initiative in an e-mail sent by MOM last Saturday.

The agreement comes after new safety measures announced in June by MOM, including having an employer or adult supervise maids when they clean the exterior of windows, installing window grilles and ensuring the grilles are locked when the windows are being cleaned.

The forms will be written in the maids' native languages such as Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog.

Briefing maids and employers on the safety requirements before they sign the form will be among the conditions for getting a licence for agents.

Agents who do not sign or issue the form may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for six months, or be sentenced to both.

Assistant Commissioner for Employment Agencies Thomas Teo said in Saturday's e-mail: "We would like to urge employment agents to take this requirement seriously and play an active role in helping to keep foreign domestic workers safe at work."

This year, nine foreign maids have died after falling from high-rise buildings.

MOM will be conducting tutorial sessions this week to help agents familiarise themselves with the new safety agreement.

Agents were informed in the e-mail that a standard biodata form for maids will also be introduced and will be made part of their licensing conditions from March 1 next year.

The Straits Times reported earlier that some maid agents were unhappy with the safety agreement and standard biodata form, which they felt were onerous and added to their paperwork.

Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) president K. Jayaprema said: "Agents should take the new requirements in their stride and make the effort to comply with them since they are now part of licensing conditions."

Agents were also reminded to ensure that maids receive their In-Principle Approval, or IPA letters, within a reasonable amount of time before they leave for Singapore.

All foreign work pass applicants have to present their IPA letters to the immigration authorities for entry into Singapore.

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