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  • Writer's pictureJoycelyn Migratesafe

Understanding Ethical Recruitment for Domestic Helpers (maids) in Malaysia and What it Means

What is Ethical Recruitment?

According to the IOM, ethical recruitment means hiring workers lawfully and in a fair and transparent manner. Ethical recruitment ensures that all candidates are treated with respect to their human rights.

Many domestic workers ("helpers") in Asia come from rural and semi rural locations and experience varying levels of poverty. In Malaysia, many helpers come from Indonesia and the Philippines. Often, helpers who go abroad are the sole breadwinner of their family. They support their children and parents for basic needs such as food, school fees, housing and medical fees.

The recruitment of domestic helpers has been a topic of concern due to many reports of cases like forced labour, abuse, and unfair practices in Malaysia and elsewhere.

The issues within the domestic work sector are still common until today. Why is that so?

  • Many recruitment agencies and training centres charge helpers excessive recruitment fees. However, they do not do much to prepare them for their work and life overseas. As a result, helpers often find themselves owing much more than they can afford, leading to a debt bondage situation.

  • In most cases, there are often differences in expectation between employers and helpers. This is because the exchange of information between them by middlemen is not done accurately. Lack of transparency in the process often leads helpers to accept work that they were not informed of. Often, helpers are also forced to sign documents that they do not understand.

  • Helpers may face issues such as confiscation of personal items like journals, handphones, Quran and Bibles, as well as retention of passport. In addition, some helpers are not afforded any rest days or overtime pay.

How do ethical recruitment agencies address the problem?

1. Job transparency

Candidates get clear information about the job that they are applying to, while employers are also informed of what they can expect from their helpers.

2. Contract compliance with standard form contracts set by the Indonesian and Philippines governments for domestic helpers.

3. Zero placement fee to eliminate debt bondage

Placement fees are fees collected by agencies for their service in helping migrant workers in finding a job abroad. But this can be a huge financial burden to those who cannot afford to pay. Adopting the "zero placement fees policy" can help candidates secure the job that they are applying to without being at risk of debt bondage.

Hence, ethical recruitment is crucial in this context to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers and overcome forced labour and unfair practices from the sector of domestic work.

Our website and its contents are provided for general information purposes only and nothing on this website or in its contents is intended to provide professional advice. Please contact us at or +6082-295175 for more information.

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