When it comes to helpers, the more common countries that people generally associate helpers with are the Philippines and Indonesia. In recent times, Employment Agencies in Singapore have realised that the supply of helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia are dwindling rapidly and most prefer to go into neighbouring countries Like Malaysia, Hong Kong or Macau. So with a drought imminent in the supply of helpers from these countries, Alternatives definitely have to be found and a lot of agencies have zoned in on Myanmar as a potential Third main source for helpers.
Myanmarese helpers aren’t a new addition to Singapore’s foreign domestic workforce , with independent agencies in Myanmar working with Singapore based employment agencies to arrange for them to work here but unfortunately, It has been illegal in Myanmar since 2014 because of the Myanmar government's concerns on underaged workers and ill-treatment of their citizens abroad but that has not stopped workers from leaving Myanmar to Singapore for work as helpers. Although it is illegal in Myanmar it is not in Singapore and Myanmarese citizens have been making their way here in search of better prospects as helpers, with an estimated 50,000 Myanmar women in Singapore working as helpers through the aid of placement agencies.
Recently on the 26th of April 2019, some major developments have occured in this sector, with discussions on an MOU between the Singaporean Government and Myanmar Government to lift the ban on Myanmarese Citizens coming to Singapore for work. This move serves as a step forward in ensuring the welfare of Myanmar’s Citizens and Singapore’s cooperation to ensure that their welfare is met and ultimately it allows for both governments to regulate the whole process that has been somewhat of a grey area since 2014. Regulations will not only affect the legality of Myanmar citizens leaving their country to come to Singapore but will also regulate the fees involved between placement agencies and Myanmar suppliers, which will ease negotiations for Singapore’s employment agencies where there have been cases of unfair division of placement fees.
The welfare of the worker is of the utmost priority for the Myanmar government and ultimately is the responsibility of the labour placement agencies in the destination country, where they will have to protect the helper should there be any cases of mistreatment. Some terms that have been set upon the hire of a helper from Myanmar includes a slightly higher wage, and lower placement fees but these terms have not been set in vain; the helpers are slated to undergo some form of training, which will justify their higher wage demands relative to them being more skilled when they arrive in Singapore for deployment.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Singapore is still yet to be finalised, but the situation is looking hopeful for both placement agencies and Myanmar Citizens. Representatives from both countries are currently in talks and we are all hoping for a finalised outcome with legislations set in stone in the coming months.