Indonesian maids are back after nearly three years.
After Jakarta decided to lift the freeze on maids to Malaysia on Dec 1 last year, the first batch of maids arrived four days ago.
Twenty-nine women from East Java were introduced to their employers in a special ceremony yesterday and will begin work immediately.
Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies president Jeffrey Foo said the maids were returning after a memorandum of understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia was signed in May last year and finalized in November.
He said the MoU ensured the well-being of the maids, especially with regard to the payment of salary and scope of duties.
“The employer is now obliged to open a special account for the maids to remit their salary, which will be monitored to ensure there is no manipulation,” Foo said during the ceremony.
He said the bank book would be kept by the maid to assure her that her wages were being banked in.
The MoU followed a moratorium that the Indonesian government imposed in June 2009 after reported cases of maid abuse in Malaysia.
Under the MoU, the duties of the maids are confined to household tasks, and it is up to them whether to accept the additional responsibility of looking after a child or a senior citizen, Foo said.
Employers are not allowed to force a maid to look after a toddler or a senior citizen or lodge a complaint if she was found to be inefficient in carrying out the task because it is not part of her expertise, he added.
Foo said that a maid would get one day off a week which need not be during the weekend.
“If the employer requests the maid to work on her day off, he must pay her RM27 for the day's work, in addition to her monthly salary of RM700,” he said.
Foo said the association had received 3,000 requests for maids.
The fee for hiring the maids is now RM4,511.
The employer has to pay RM2,711 to the agent while the maid has to put up RM1,800.
Foo said the fee would be revised upwards after this batch, which is subject to government approval, but the association would try to keep it below RM7,000.
“I am optimistic that more maids will come to work here, but employers must be patient. The maids will not flock here overnight,” he added
He expects the next few months to be “slow”, especially in August, with few maids arriving because of Hari Raya celebrations.