Maid centre pushes for e-payments
In its first year of operation, the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) has handled more than 500 cases, with salary disputes, request for transfers and physical abuse being the three most common issues.
While over 80 per cent of all the cases have been resolved, the centre wants to push to make it mandatory for employers to pay their maids electronically, so maids have more ownership of their money.
Speaking at an event to share the CDE's report card and thank its volunteers, the centre's chairman Yeo Guat Kwang said salary disputes arise as there is no standardised system for paying these workers.
Currently, some employers pay their maids in cash. In some cases, the employers "act as bankers" and collect loan repayments from maids on behalf of maid agencies, Mr Yeo noted. But when employers are financially tight, they pay the maids late or not at all.
Welcoming CDE's push for cashless payments, the Association of Employment Agencies president K. Jayaprema said this will enable the workers, the authorities and employers to track independent records to prove if payments were made correctly and on time.
The CDE, which is run by the National Trades Union Congress, will push for electronic payments to be applied to all domestic workers, Mr Yeo said.
The centre, which has sheltered 110 workers since opening on Jan 24 last year, will open a second shelter in a yet undisclosed location in June, which can house up to 100 maids. It also has plans for programmes such as counselling, retraining and temporary job placements for those staying for longer periods. Those involved in abuse cases may stay at the shelter for six months or so.
To help employers and employees understand each other better and reduce miscommunication, the centre launched a series of books which portray, through comics, cultural misunderstandings that may arise. The books come in four different bilingual versions and are available at the CDE's office and website.