Indonesia: Maids get $350 or no approval of contracts

, National 2 minutes, 44 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Indonesian embassy in Brunei will not approve or renew work contracts that do not meet the minimum wage requirements, said the counsellor at the Indonesian Embassy yesterday.

The Indonesian government decided in April last year to raise the monthly minimum wage for Indonesian domestic helpers working in Brunei to $350 from $250.

“We will not sign their documents (when the work contract does not meet the monthly minimum wage),” said Endy Ghafur Fadyl.

The embassy will be notified of the salary of the domestic helper when an employment agency or an employer reports their domicile in the country, during which the agency or the employer will be submitting documents comprising working contract, quota licence, insurance, worker’s passport and photo.

Work contracts signed before April 1, 2015, would remain the same until the contract has been terminated.

“The monthly minimum wage of $350 for Indonesian domestic helpers (working in Brunei) was not the embassy’s decision but it was made by the government of Indonesia in Jakarta,” Endy said yesterday.

The regulation, which requires a minimum wage of $350 for maids while formal workers’ wages are increased from $16 to $18 for eight working hours.

This was introduced to ensure the welfare of their citizens working abroad.

“The cost to cover their basic needs is increasing nowadays and as they work far away from their home, they have to send money back to their families,” he said.

He also compared the salaries of Indonesian maids working in other countries.

Indonesian nationals working in the informal sector in Singapore and Malaysia receive a monthly minimum wage of $450 and RM750, respectively.

Currently, there are over 30,000 domestic helpers from Indonesia working in the sultanate.

The embassy said they have received some reports from Indonesian domestic helpers who received monthly salaries below $350.

“When we receive such complaints, we contact the employer and try to resolve the matter,” he said.

The embassy also said that there are cases when both employer and employees have side agreements, where the wage ends up being only $200 or $250 per month.

“Sadly, this happens because some workers don’t understand this, and they sign (the agreement).”

“We are still working on a memorandum of understanding, but in the meantime, the Brunei government is giving us a very positive gesture. Brunei and Indonesia are at the same level where we want to protect our citizens and we currently have a good relationship,” the embassy said.

Last year, just a day after the Indonesian government issued its regulation on the minimum wage for its citizens working as domestic workers and working in formal sectors, including those working in the construction and manufacturing industries, Brunei’s Department of Labour said it had not endorsed minimum wages from any country and that the issue of wages should be guided by market demand.

Currently, there is no specific law governing minimum wage in Brunei that applies to local or foreign workers, where wages are normally set by mutual agreement (offer and acceptance) between employers and employees, the department said.

The department also said Brunei’s Employment Order 2009 outlines the minimum terms and conditions of employment for all workers in the sultanate.

These include working hours and rest days as well payment of wages, overtime, contract of service, repatriation (for foreign workers), leave and other benefits.

The Brunei Times