PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2003, 12:00am

Although I am opposed to the $400 levy on foreign domestic helpers, I believe that something good could come of it if it was carried out as a service.

I suggest that on hiring a maid an employer would have to place one month's salary as a deposit and two months in advance with the director of Accounting Services, and be required to pay one month's salary by autopay on a set day of each month, this after the maid's initial contract would also include a percentage for her gratuity.

The government could then pay the maid on the first day of each month, deducting what it saw as a reasonable levy, depending on prevailing circumstances. Where an employer made a late salary payment to the government then a 5 per cent surcharge could be charged. The benefits of doing this would be that a minimum wage would be ensured and that in the long term many maids would benefit by knowing their gratuities would also be paid. The work imposed on the Labour Tribunal would also decrease and the government would have in hand an initial lump sum swelled by surcharges.

Setting up the initial system might be a downside, but I am sure that with such a large sum involved the matter could be contracted out to one or two of the large banks, with maids not having a bank account collecting their salaries in cash from a designated branch possibly even by an ATM card.

In time this system could grow to offer protection to workers in the construction and catering sectors and possibly even establish a fair minimum wage system for all the low paid.


Clear Water Bay