Malaysian employers of Indonesian maids to pay $1,900 per application

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia - Some 50,000 Indonesians will start arriving in Malaysia to work as maids when the two-year moratorium is officially lifted on Dec 1.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Indonesian and Malaysian manpower authorities had sorted out the last hitches which prevented lifting of the ban imposed by Jakarta on Indonesians coming to Malaysia in 2009.

"This news will be received with joy in Malaysia and it shows much sincerity on the part of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in overcoming the issue," he said after meeting Susilo as soon as he arrived here late yesterday to attend the 19th Asean Summit and Related Summits which starts today.

Both leaders had earlier agreed at their recent meeting in Lombok to establish a joint task force to examine several final issues preventing lifting of the ban by Indonesia.

Najib said the task force had reported to both leaders that all amendments proposed to the memorandum of understanding in Lombok had been agreed to.

Among others, prospective Malaysian employers of Indonesian domestic maids must pay RM4,511 (S$1,850) to maid agencies in Indonesia for each application made.

From the total amount, RM1,800 are considered as advance from employers to the individual maids and can be deducted from the workers' salary later although each periodical deduction must not be more than half of the maids' monthly salaries.

Briefing journalists later, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said although the figure was disputed earlier, some 117 and 121 Indonesian and Malaysian maid agencies respectively had agreed to the sum.

Indonesian maids working in Malaysia will also be given a day off per week and should the maid be required to work on her off day, employees must pay her the extra amount according to the Employment Act.

Malaysian authorities also agreed that Malaysian employers can no longer hold passports belonging to their maids, a common practice among employers before to prevent their maids from running away.

Subramaniam said from now, should the maid leave within six months after being employed, the maid agency must refund in full all payments made by the employer or find a suitable replacement.

Malaysia meanwhile, will no longer allow conversion of social visit passes held by Indonesians to work permits. All intending maids must go through the proper channel, he said.

All prospective maids must also undergo at least 200 hours of training in Indonesia before being sent by agencies to Malaysia.

Subramaniam said maid salaries would be determined by supply and demand and must as far as possible be paid into the bank account of the worker.

Jakarta banned its people from working as maids in Malaysia two years ago, following what it saw as mistreatments on them by Malaysian employers.