GEORGE TOWN: The cost of a housekeeper in Malaysia is “absurdly high” and among the highest in the world, says Chris CT Chan, owner of a Penang-based employment agency.
“The current cost to get a voucher for potential employers is around RM20,000, but with the costs of quarantine and prevention of Covid-19, it can increase,” said Chan, who has run his agency for more than 25 years.
The cost of quarantine for each incoming maid could reach 3,000 RM, and the recruitment fee could reach around 25,000 RM.
Commenting on the recent Memorandum of Understanding between Indonesia and Malaysia on the recruitment of domestic workers, Chan said he understands Indonesia wants to protect its citizens who come here to work as domestic workers, which is acceptable.
He, however, felt that it was unfair for Malaysian families to shell out a large sum of money as recruitment fees to get a maid.
Tan urged the government to take into account the hidden costs and quarantine issues for Indonesian maids, and to clarify the costs for potential employers.
Regarding the required base salary of RM 1,500 for Indonesian maids, Tan said this should depend on the skill level and experience of the maid.
“Potential employers don’t hesitate to pay a good maid a good salary as long as they have a good quality one,” he said.
The Indonesian government previously asked Putrajaya to set a minimum wage for its citizens working here at RM 1,500 per month, but the minimum wage in Malaysia is RM 1,200 per month.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has reportedly said he agreed to a salary starting at RM 1,200, but if an employer is willing to pay RM 1,500 per month, the government has no objection.
Businessman Jasper Ooi, 34, who plans to employ a housekeeper to look after his two daughters, aged eight months and three, said the RM 1,500 minimum wage was reasonable considering given the cost of living today.
He said Malaysians need to change their minds and accept the required income from domestic workers.
However, Ooi felt that the fees for bringing in domestic helpers are too high and should be reduced.
“It’s too expensive and the government should revise it and lower the fees,” he said.
Cleaning service operator Baby Goh shared the same sentiment, saying the charge of RM25,000 and above is totally unnecessary.
She said she was not willing to shell out so much money to hire a maid.
She urged the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to find a way to reduce recruitment costs for potential employers.
“It’s expensive now because of the costs of quarantine and prevention of Covid-19,” she said.
“Both governments should find a mechanism to reduce other costs and make enforcement easier in the future. The previous cost was already high, and with the new cost, this will surely weigh on potential employers, ”she added.
Goh said unnecessary costs should be avoided as many Malaysians are in need of maids, especially to care for the elderly.
She said many families here would rather not send their aging parents to nursing homes.
“Many of them want to hire Indonesian servants.
“In the long term, having a maid is always cheaper than using the service of a retirement home to look after the elderly or hire nursing aides,” she added.