SINGAPORE: From May 1, the minimum salary for domestic workers from the Philippines will be raised from S$550 to S$570, the Philippines Embassy’s Overseas Labour Office (POLO-SG) said on Friday (Mar 31).
In a notice to its more than 200 accredited employment agencies, the embassy’s Labour Attache Ramon Pastrana said this is due to the “fluctuation of exchange rates of the USD” in relation to the Singapore dollar.
The last revision for the minimum salary took place in 2012, where it went up from S$500 to S$550.
Singapore has about 240,000 domestic workers and about 70,000 are Filipino.
Besides the pay increase, Mr Pastrana also spelled out the Labour Office’s plans to take a tougher stance on employment agencies who collect “placement fees” by deducting a portion of a maid’s salary. Placement fees are service fees paid to the agency for its work in facilitating employment for the domestic worker. This includes paperwork and negotiations with prospective employers, among others.
Currently, under Philippine law, agencies are not allowed to charge any placement fees to domestic workers. But in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower allows agencies to deduct up to a maximum two month’s worth of a domestic worker’s salary for placement fees. Agencies may choose not to deduct any amount as well.
According to the notice, the Labour Office “received reports that employment agencies in Singapore continuously charge Filipino domestic workers placement fees through salary deductions of one to eight months.”
"Due to this alleged blatant disregard of Philippine laws and regulations and despite the many briefings conducted by POLO-SG to address the situation, POLO-SG hereby announces the following policies to take effect immediately,” it said.
These policies include “immediate suspension of documentary processing” for agencies who collect placement fees through salary deduction. All accredited agencies will also be required to submit updated name and contact details and salaries of domestic workers, as well as the name and contact details of their respective employers.