Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
By Nur Natasha Aida Ismail and Rosemarie Khoo Mohd Sani
Hiring foreign maids through agencies is the common practice in this country, but the experience has been mostly negative among employers.
Azrul Rahim was one of those who had never-ending problems with foreign maids.
“There were those who ran away, acted peculiarly and stole, among others. The experience traumatised me.
“Their agencies might have trained them but often failed to vet their backgrounds,” he told Bernama.
He was then determined to find a solution that would benefit not only himself but others.
Bringing in foreign workers is a tedious process plagued with bureaucracy and hidden costs.
Many are also uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger in their home at all hours of the day, impinging on their privacy.
He then had the idea for a cleaning service that takes care of the common concerns by potential employers.
Today, Azrul is the owner and CEO of MaidEasy Sdn Bhd (MaidEasy), an online company that matches cleaning service providers with those looking to have their house cleaned.
He put to use the 15 years of experience he had in software development to create a platform for enabling the connection between individuals seeking to obtain cleaning services and individuals seeking to provide cleaning services.
MaidEasy has received 14,000 bookings since offering the service for the Klang Valley in January, this year.
Cognisant of all the problems surrounding the hiring of maids, Azrul decided to address each concern through a vetting system.
A third party is appointed by MaidEasy to screen the background of maids. They would also be cross-referenced with the police for criminal records.
Approved applicants would then undergo interviews and practical tests before being accepted.
They would then be given training, including in communication skills.
To date, MaidEasy has in its database over 300 maids, 80 percent of whom are locals.
The rest are Indonesians, Myanmarese and Sri Lankans from private companies providing maid services, following MaidEasy’s collaboration with the latter.
“Although this profession is usually associated with foreign workers, there has also been an interest among the locals as well, especially after learning of the pay offered. We are offering three to four times more than what is paid elsewhere,” he told Bernama.
Those interested range from university students to those seeking a side income.
“This is one of the better opportunities for locals to supplement their income in this difficult economy, as the job is not that hard,” he said.
BOOK A MAID IN 60 SECONDS
Through its user-friendly website www.maideasy.my, MaidEasy claims that customers can book a home cleaner in just 60 seconds through their smart phones, tablets or computers.
Three categories of services are provided, namely basic home cleaning, move-in cleaning for premises that require extensive cleaning before the customer can move into and the cleaning of commercial premises.
“Customers can book at the latest on the same day, through online payment,” said Azrul.
To ensure satisfaction, customers are asked to rate the efficiency of the cleaner that serviced their homes.
If the services provided were found lacking, customers would be compensated with the services of another cleaner at no additional cost. Meanwhile, the cleaner to whom the complaints were directed to would be asked to undergo training again.
REQUESTS FOR CHILDMINDING SERVICES
Azrul has also received requests from among the customers for child minding services. However, he had to turn down such requests as it involved a complicated process.
“At the moment we have yet to identify whether such services would require a separate license or otherwise.
“We would also need to discuss with various parties, including the government agencies in charge,” he said.
EXPANDING TO PENANG AND JOHOR
The recent investment by Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (ADIF) has Azrul setting his sights on expanding MaidEasy services to Penang and Johor Baharu next year, following the high demand in both states.
“The funding will help with our expansion and prove what online companies are capable of.
“We are hoping to hire at least 1,000 local house cleaners next year to cater to the increasing clientele,” he said.
ADIF is a technology venture formed by the Axiata Group Bhd in collaboration with the Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd to support the government’s objective in boosting the capacity of local innovative companies.
MaidEasy charges as low as RM20 an hour for a minimum booking of four hours.
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