KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian employers wishing to directly hire Indonesian maids will soon be able to take their pick from a list of licensed Indonesian recruitment agencies. Labour Department director-general Datuk Sheikh Yahya Sheikh Mohamed said Malaysian employers can deal directly with the Indonesian agents without going through local recruitment agencies.
The list of Indonesian recruitment agencies would be made public via the Labour Department's website as well as in the newspapers, he said.
"We hope to get this done within the next couple of weeks as we are waiting for our Indonesian counterparts to finalise the mechanism for the direct recruitment on their end.
"On our part, we are ready. Once everything has been agreed upon by the Joint Task Force on this issue, we can go ahead," he told the New Sunday Times.
Sheikh Yahya was elaborating on the statement by Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam last week that employers could now directly hire Indonesian maids without going through agents.
It is learnt that Indonesia will only start despatching its maids here once all the protocols agreed upon in the memorandum of understanding signed between both governments in Bandung on May 30 are in force.
Sheikh Yahya said Malaysian employers can get the biodata of maids from the Indonesian agents and submit their applications through the Immigration Department here.
"Once their application is approved, they just have to send the calling visa to the agent and make arrangements for the maid's arrival.
"Doing this will be much cheaper as the employer only pays about RM1,800 to the Indonesian agent, compared with the RM4,511 fee that they pay through local agents.
"Employers can deduct the RM1,800 from the maid's salary on condition that the deduction is not more than 50 per cent of the monthly salary."
Previously, employers could directly source the maids without going through an agent in either country.
However, they would have to get all the documentation, including getting the maid a passport and sending her for a medical examination in her source country, on their own.
"But under the new agreement, all maids must go through an Indonesian recruitment agency even if the maid is sourced personally by the employer. This is their law and we have to respect it," Sheikh Yahya added.
Indonesia had banned its maids from working in Malaysia in 2009 following reports of abuse by Malaysian employers.
He said the new requirement was to ensure that only trained maids were sent here.
The maids are required to undergo a mandatory 200-hour training programme before they are sent to Malaysia.
Maids who have undergone the required training will be issued with certificates.
"This is to safeguard Malaysian employers as any maid who is found to be untrained will be replaced within the six-month grace period. Those who are found to be medically unfit will be replaced if their condition is discovered within three months of their arrival in the country."
It is learnt that the regulation requiring Indonesian maids to go through their local recruitment agency was introduced in 2004, but is now being strictly enforced by the Indonesian government.
He said the Joint Task Force was expected to meet soon and the mechanism was expected to be finalised by the end of the month.
"The Indonesian authorities will provide us the list of their recruitment agencies and we will also provide them a list of our local recruitment agencies which have agreed to the RM4,511 fee structure."
Malaysian recruitment agencies, which do not want to follow the fee structure, would be excluded from the list.
"As they do not agree with the fee, they can source maids from other countries instead."
It was earlier reported that only 30 out of 100 recruitment agencies which met the ministry officials, had agreed to the new fee structure.
Apart from Indonesia, Malaysians can also employ maids from Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and Laos.
Sheikh Yahya said Malaysian employers who had already identified the Indonesian maids they wanted to recruit could start putting in their bookings so that these maids could be sent for the compulsory training as soon as possible.
He stressed that the new agreement with Indonesia was drafted to protect Malaysian employers as well as the maids.
"Other source countries are also asking us to have a similar protocol for their domestic workers and we welcome it.
"But for the moment, we are only having this arrangement with Indonesia."