A price war is raging in the maid industry as maid agenciesin Singapore slash their fees to attract employers - but it is the maids who are bearing the brunt of the price war
Now, it can cost as little as $300 to hire a maid, down from an average of around $1,600 six months ago, as checks with 15 maid agencies Singapore in show.
Singapore Maid Agency Fee
Agents can offer such rock-bottom rates because they are passing the bulk of the recruitment costs on to the maids themselves.
As a result, the fees that the maids pay the agents have doubled, from an average of around $2,200 to more than $4,000.
Most maids here earn around $500 a month.Many go without wages, or earn only $10 or $20 a month for up to eight months, while they pay off what they owe in fees.Maids suffer a dip in morale when they have heavy debts.If you had to go without pay for eight months,you would want to quit.Agents are warning that more maids will be discouraged by the high fees and quit.A standard employment contract is for two years.Retention rates are already poor.
Industry players estimate that there are more than 1,000 active maid agencies in Singapore.
The key reason for the price war is a glut in supply at maid agencies in Singapore that have no unique selling point other than cheap rates.
"Many agencies in Singapore don't have a good reputation or a strong client base. They have nothing that lets them stand out, other than cheap fees," some industry players say.
However, some Singapore agents interviewed said that recruitment fees charged to maids have increased because agents overseas are asking for more in commissions.When there is good demand for maids, the overseas agents always ask for more money.
The way to prevent maids from being overcharged would be through strict regulations, migrant worker activists said.Under the current legislation, maid agencies in Singapore can charge workers recruitment fees of up to two months of their salary.He said: "Employers should foot all the fees for recruiting a worker. This would be in line with International Labour Organisation guidelines."
Mr Vicente Cabe, labour attache at the Philippine Embassy here, said that in recent months it had barred some maid agencies in Singapore from recruiting Filipino maids, as they had charged excessive fees.