Maid agency fees must be reasonable: Subramaniam

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 – Maid agency fees should be set at a more reasonable rate and relevant to the needs of the people, said Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam today.

He added that some agencies had fees as high as RM12,000 per maid, which is too expensive for many Malaysians.

“In the long run, I’m quite agreeable that market forces should actually determine fees, but at the same time they should be reasonable and relevant to the needs of the people,” he told reporters after officiating the ‘1st World Convention on Shirdi Sai Baba’ at the Sri Maha Mariamman building, here.

Last Wednesday, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to review the cost structure for bringing in maids from the republic. Both governments had previously agreed to a RM4,511 one-off agency fee for each maid.

Dr Subramaniam said that it was the government’s responsibility to come to a mutually acceptable rate.

“We are not going to stop anyone from charging lesser than the agreed amount. That is why we are negotiating for a more agreeable cost structure for agencies on both sides,” he said.

On another issue, Dr Subramaniam said the exemptions given to companies on imposing the minimum wage beginning January was not permanent, as only companies involved in certain fields might get temporary deferment, whereas the others had to follow the ruling.

“Large companies have till Jan 1 to enforce floor wages while small and medium enterprises have been given a leeway to do so by July 1. It is not a total exemption. The vast majority did not meet the requirements and it is just for a short period of time,” he added.

Some 630 business operators, consisting of a mix of small and medium entrepreneurs and other companies, were granted an extension of three to six months to manage their finances in view of the implementation of minimum wage in 2013.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry had received more than 4,500 applications pleading for a grace period on implementing the minimum wage of RM900 in the peninsula and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak next year.

“When a company is continuously making losses and it is on the verge of collapse, (if we insist) we carry on (implementing minimum wage) (they might) have to close shop tomorrow,” he said.

He noted that the government had a responsibility to be fair to both employers and employees in this circumstances.

“We cannot say doesn’t matter if your (company is) going to die, you (still) have to follow what we say. This perception that we should only look at the workers and ignore the employers is not good. If there are no healthy employers there are there no healthy workers,” he added. – Bernama


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