The new system only benefits employers who are already hiring, according to MD
By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By BLOOMBERG
Domestic workers or maids assist families with childcare, household duties, as well as the elderly.
Having one, however, does not come cheap.
The Immigration Department has provided an alternative to ease the burden of those who are reluctant to fork out about RM18,000 to hire a domestic helper through a recruitment agency.
The newly launched portal termed “Maid Online” system (SMO) — which went live on Jan 1 — has recorded 97,687 visitors as of 8am yesterday.
Questions, however, were raised on the degree of convenience of the new system as it only benefits employers who are already hiring.
For those potential employers who are not in contact with any prospective domestic helpers, there are risks involving the process of direct recruiting in the sourcing countries.
Agensi Pekerjaan Afif Sdn Bhd MD Zaihan Md Lani said employers seeking to hire maids without the help of an agency will have to bear the risks themselves when it comes to legal and safety issues.
Potential employers who are insistent about getting the helpers themselves need to seek for agencies in countries that have established an agreement with the agencies here in Malaysia — otherwise, it is deemed illegal.
The source countries also have requirements before allowing their people to be employed in a different country by way of protecting their citizens from being trapped in human trafficking and the like, according to Zaihan.
Employers also risk having absconding or incompetent maids through direct hiring.
That said, people will now have the opportunity to opt for a more economical way of hiring domestic helpers.
Employers will be ensured to get a maid trained by recruitment agencies to have the necessary skills if they go through a registered recruitment agency, rather than on their own.
These agencies also have a good policy on absconding maids and will take the matter into discussion rather than ignore the situation.
Zaihan said SMO processes permits through Journey Performed Visa, which is more reasonable as it is all done by the employers seeking to hire, whereas recruitment agencies process the working permit through Visa with Reference, or “calling visa”.
The online system was revealed during the tabling of Budget 2018 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak as part of the government’s initiative to allow for the direct hiring of domestic helpers.
To make a submission, employers have to undergo nine steps, ranging from providing details of themselves and their partners, if any, as well as the required legal documentation of the maids for hire.
Employers also have to specify the type of help that they require, which is a selection between taking care of small children under 15 years old, ailing old citizens, or doing regular house chores.
Employers are required to send the maids for a full medical examination through the Foreign Workers Medical Examination and attach the result along with the submission.
In order to be eligible to request for a maid, the Immigration Department had made clear that potential employers have to earn a minimum salary of between RM3,000 and RM5,000 depending on the sourcing countries.
Once approved, employers will then need to fork out between RM1,600 and RM2,500 in payment — which would include immigration processes and fixed charges such as levy, pass exchange and processing fee.
Immigration Department DG Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali confirmed to a local daily recently that the online system had received over 700 applications, just a day after it was launched.