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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bank account for maids

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 300,000 employers of domestic maids will soon have to open bank accounts in their maids' names and pay the salary into the accounts monthly.

With this, employers will not be allowed to hold the maids' salaries.
“There have been a lot of complaints by international agencies that employers were not paying foreign maids their wages,” Human Resources Minister Datuk Fong Chan Onn told The Star.

It will cover all employers of foreign and local maids, he added.
Dr Fong said the rationale for the inclusion of the clause were:

  • PROTECTION on payment of wages to maids;
  • ELIMINATE instances of employers keeping their wages; and
  • PREVENT cases of non-payment of wages.

“By making a clear-cut policy on this, domestic maids will be protected and they cannot claim that their wages were not paid,” he said.

The opening of bank accounts will be mandatory in the amendments proposed to the Employment Act, 1955, due to be tabled in Parliament next month.
The proposed clause under Section 57A, Wages of Domestic Servant, states:
“It will be mandatory for employers of a domestic servant to pay the wages of domestic servants into the domestic servant’s bank account.”

Currently, there is no stipulation in the Act requiring employers to pay their domestic servants' wages into a bank account. The Malaysian Foreign Workers Association president Datuk Raja Zulkepley Dahlan said some illegal agencies did not pay maids and this move would prevent such cases.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary general G. Rajasekaran supported the proposed change and said that it was aimed at safeguarding the domestic maids.

“The bank account will ensure that the maid receives the money,” he added.
Bank officer Tan Chow Sin, 51, said he had been doing this since the time he first had a maid and was comfortable with the arrangement.

“She will feel secure as she will be able to see her hard-earned money safe in her account, while my wife and I can sleep peacefully knowing that she won't run away,” he said.

Professional services manager P. Seran who has employed maids for several years said that with the banks now open for five days, it would be cumbersome for working employers to open the account, and withdraw and transfer the cash.

“The current arrangement of us paying her cash is a convenient method and acceptable to the maid. It will be too much of a hassle for us to keep going to the bank to deposit and withdraw each time she wanted money from her savings.”

Another employer P. Guna Sundari said that they had opened a separate account under her husband’s name, and at the end of every month the maid is shown the savings account book when it is updated.

In Penang, Home Affairs Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat said Malaysia and Indonesia have reached consensus on the terms of the long-delayed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on employment of maids from the republic.

The MoU, to be signed by May, will be the first official agreement between the two countries on Indonesian domestic workers' recruitment in Malaysia.
He said representatives from both countries have drawn up a proposed MoU during a two-day technical committee meeting in Penang which started on Monday.

M.Krishnamoorthy & Siow Yuen Ching
The Star Malaysia
February 8, 2006

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