THE stakeholders comprising employers, maids and maid agencies must find common ground to foster a harmonious contractual relationship ("Maid agents ask Manila govt to ease hiring terms"; last Friday).
There are three contentious concerns that must be addressed.
First, salary. Based on standard contracts formulated by the Philippine government, for ease of computation, entry-level salary should be $500, which is equivalent to the US$400 monthly minimum Manila wants for its maids.
Second, maid placement fees. It is only fair and just that maids be responsible for their own expenses incurred in their home country, such as the processing of their passports, medical checks, training, personal insurance and other documentation fees required by the Philippine government.
This is to ensure the maids' commitment to undertake their jobs seriously and not be here for "free rides". Placement fees can be arranged by banks or financial institutions appointed by the Philippine government.
Local employment agents could also be allowed to collect a sum of not more than $250 for any transfer of employment within the six-month interim period.
Third, weekly rest days. With effect from next year, the Manpower Ministry will allow maids to work for their employers during their rest days, as long as they are compensated and both parties mutually agree. However, two mandatory rest days a month should be enforced, allowing the maids to trade off only the remaining entitled days in monetary terms.
Notably, it is the practice of employers to give maids Sundays off so that they can enjoy the company of their compatriots. Hence, days off should not be given on weekdays.
All other terms and conditions that are of less importance can be ironed out between the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) here and the Philippines' Association of Licensed Recruitment Agencies for Singapore.
While I can understand the tough stance taken by Philippine labour attache Vicente Cabe, I hope he can also give due consideration to the above feedback.
Any contract entered should not be lopsided, so that we can achieve a win-win outcome.
Alice Cheah (Ms)