Singapore's Ministry of Manpower has clarified its stance on Singapore's maid agencies stated intention of bringing women from neighbouring countries into Singapore on tourist visas and then applying for work permits as domestic workers. They said they would do that in order to skirt the Philippine government's requirement that the employers should pay for the placement fees. MOM says it has rejected work-permit applications of maids who were in Singapore at the time of the application. The Straits Times however, said that the number of rejections is known to have been small. Let's hope MOM increases its level of vigilance.
Part of the problem lies with the agencies in the Philippines, of course. Their fees are too high and there is too much under table payment going on. Imagine if you were offered a job in a foreign country, but your new boss said he would need to deduct the first four to eight months salary to cover the "expenses" of recruiting you. What would you say? For some reason in the eyes of the agencies who deal with the employment of foreigners, it's perfectly OK.
It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the future. One thing is for sure, the agencies need to conduct themselves far more professionally than they are doing at the moment. The Philippine government has stated that it wants the placement fees to be no more than two months salary and that the employer should pick up the tab. If that goal can be achieved, we will have made significant progress.