Families may get caregiving help from foreigners in future
A pilot scheme that allows families to hire foreign workers to clean their homes for a short period could be expanded to include foreigners giving part-time caregiving services.
Such a move would hinge on whether there is industry demand, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education Low Yen Ling in Parliament yesterday.
She was responding to calls by two MPs to provide more short-term domestic help for households.
Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) asked the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to introduce short-term work permits for foreign domestic workers so employment agencies can cater to families that need help.
Ms Low said the ministry had piloted the Household Services Scheme in September 2017 and it allows foreign workers to be deployed to specific households for a short period.
Unlike regular foreign domestic workers who need a two-year work permit to work here, these are hired by service providers directly and have longer duration contract. They live in company-provided accommodation instead of the households where they work, and can work in multiple households.
But the scheme is only for companies that provide cleaning services, noted Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC). He urged MOM to extend the scheme to households that need caregiver help.
Ms Low said the ministry will look into his suggestion.
"I want to assure Mr Melvin Yong and Mr Desmond Choo that MOM is prepared to consider including companies which provide caregiving services, or perhaps short-term respite care with the Health Ministry's support," she added.
Mr Yong also asked for the rationale to give foreign maids a two-year work permit.
Ms Low said the duration helps them pay their debts to employment agents as well as give them and their employers time to build a relationship.
The maids, she added, need time to earn enough to repay the fees they typically owe their agents for getting them work in Singapore. These placement fees are usually paid by deducting the amount from their pay in the first few months of work.
She also said employers may need the two-year period to train their maids.
In short, the duration provides "certainty and stability" for both the maids and employers, she added.