Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis asked the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the minimum household income required to employ a migrant domestic worker (MDW); (b) what is the rationale for not disclosing such income criteria; and (c) what is the number and percentage of annual MDW applications over the last five years that are rejected based on household income criteria.
Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis asked the Minister for Manpower in respect of senior citizens seeking to employ a migrant domestic worker (MDW) but who do not have an earned income, whether the sponsorship scheme can be expanded to allow for potential employers to set aside the full costs of hiring a MDW over the contract period in an escrow account to demonstrate financial means.
The Minister of State for Manpower (Ms Gan Siow Huang) (for the Minister for Manpower): Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will address Question Nos 13 and 14 by Mr Louis Chua, together.
Mr Speaker: Yes, please.
Ms Gan Siow Huang: MOM assesses an applicant’s eligibility to employ a migrant domestic worker (MDW) based on various factors, such as the income of the prospective employer, the ability to provide proper and safe accommodation for the domestic worker and the caregiving needs of the household. Income is not the sole factor in determining whether the application can be approved.
In addition, MOM may consider other relevant information to determine an applicant’s financial ability to hire a migrant domestic worker. These include caregiving needs and retired senior citizens without regular income but who have savings. In assessing renewal applications, we also consider the track records of the employers, such as whether they previously defaulted on salary or levy payment. Hence, we do not have a rigid income criteria and do not just reject applications solely on that alone. We do have many factors for consideration.
Over the past five years, an average of about 2,000 cases, or about 1% of all the applications each year were rejected after taking the various factors into consideration.
Mr Speaker: Mr Louis Chua.
Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis (Sengkang): I thank the Minister of State for the response. Just a supplementary question in relation to my second Parliamentary Question.
I understand that MOM is rightly concerned about the financial ability of employers who hire and upkeep the migrant domestic worker. And especially when it comes to retiree households, by definition, they would not already have an income. I do note that there is a sponsorship scheme which allows them to nominate their children or other family members to be their sponsors, but some of them may think that they do not want to unnecessarily impose on them when there is no logical need to do so, given that they do have the financial resources. I think Minister of State has also mentioned that they consider like the savings of these households by example.
I wonder whether or not this could actually be one of the means other than income specifically that is put up as the eligibility criterion, rather than on a case-by-case basis. I have a resident who came to me last month, sharing this concern and we have also written to MOM on his behalf.
Ms Gan Siow Huang: I thank Mr Louis Chua for that question. Indeed, we do consider various forms of financial ability for the applicant to be able to hire a migrant domestic worker. We do look at savings. And in the case of the resident who was referred to MOM, we have actually been in discussion with the applicant. We are supportive, in principle.
Ministry of Manpower
5 April 2022