No more English entry test for maids

Sunday, Dec 04, 2011

In place of the current English entry test, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will introduce a a mandatory Settling-In Programme (SIP) to help foreign domestic workers cope with living and working in Singapore.

The programme will be introduced by mid 2012.

The SIP includes components components such as adapting to living and working in Singapore, as well as conditions of employment and responsibilities of the foreign domestic worker.

It will include information about living and working in Singapore, as well as modules on how to manage stress and adapt to working in a foreign, urban environment.

The SIP will be conducted in English or the domestic worker's native language to maximise understanding and retention.

MOM will appoint Accredited Training Providers to run the SIP. It is in the process of refining the programme content and duration to keep costs manageable for employers and ensure that everyone will benefit from it.

The English entry test came under review in June 2011 after a 26-year-old Indonesian maid tried to hang herself after failing her English-language entry test three times. She subsequently died in hospital.

For employers and employment agencies (EAs) who still prefer domestic helpers to undergo a language assessment, the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) will provide clients of EAs accredited by them with other avenues, such as a written test in English or other languages where scores can be provided to employers; or opportunities to interview the domestic helper in person or via telephone or video conference.

MOM will retain other entry requirements such as educational qualifications and the minimum age of first-time domestic workers to be 23 years old.

This is to ensure that domestic workers who come to work in Singapore are more mature and better able to cope with working and living in a foreign, urban environment.

Commenting on the changes to the entry requirements, Mr Phua Boon Leng, MOM's Director of Well-Being, Foreign Manpower Management Division, said, "Through our extensive consultation process with stakeholders on domestic workers issues, we found overwhelming support to remove the entry test and replace it with the SIP, to better serve the objective of helping first-time FDWs adjust to living and working in Singapore... MOM will continue to engage and consult stakeholders on domestic workers policies, as part of our aim to ensure our policies remain relevant."

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