KUALA LUMPUR: Starting Friday, any employer who hires a Filipino maid may have to pay her a minimum monthly salary of RM1,430 - double the old wage and almost three times that of an Indonesian maid.
The minimum monthly salary set by the Philippines Overseas Labour Office (Polo) takes effect on Dec 15. The minimum age set for the maids is 25 years.
However, this has drawn flak from Malaysian employment agencies. They say the current minimum wage for a Filipino maid is US$200 (RM715).
"The 100% increase is too high and unrealistic," they added.
There are an estimated 20,000 Filipino maids in Malaysia and about 30 employment agencies are involved in the recruitment of these maids.
Josephus B. Jimenez, the Philippine Embassy labour attache here, said in a letter to all domestic maid agencies that Filipino household workers now had to attend and complete an orientation course on work policies and their responsibilities.
The letter also stated that the domestic workers should be treated humanely while under the custody of their employers.
A leading maid agency owner, Mona Lee, said most agencies were upset over the high increase in the minimum salary.
"Any increase should be based on the performance of the maid. They (Polo) just cannot arbitrarily fix a rate and expect every employer to follow it," argued Lee, a former president of the Association for Filipino Domestic Maids Agencies.
"Most maid agencies are rejecting the increase and employers have expressed their objections as well.
"Some employers are not even paying the current US$200 salary stipulated by Polo."
She added that the unnecessary increase would encourage more maids from the Philippines to enter the country without proper documents.
Another agent who had been bringing in Filipino maids for the past 20 years felt the increase was too high and unrealistic.
"This may encourage Filipino women to come into the country as tourists and be employed as maids at a lower salary," he added.