Indonesia will stop allowing women from the country to work as live-in maids in any foreign nation beginning next year.
The authorities want the maids to be employed as formal workers with stipulated working hours and they must have a weekly dat off. Indonesian Ambassador Herman Prayitno said the government does not want the workers to stay at the employer's house.
Prayitno said: "We want a formal contract between the domestic helper and the employer. Just like the contracts drawn up for employment in companies."
Employers will get "better-quality" workers this way, the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower's director for the protection and placement of Indonesian migrant workers abroad, Soes Hindharno, told The Straits Times. They will get certified in Indonesia and trained to excel in specific skills, such as cooking, childcare and eldercare.
"They are also free to do other chores, but don't penalise them if they don't do too well in areas outside their skill set. We want better protection for our workers. If they are always indoors, we don't know if they have worked overtime. They should be compensated for that," he added.
This move will be executed in phases, and it will be discussed with authorities in various countries, including Singapore.
Soes also said the initiative will affect only the new workers. Maids who are already working in households abroad and are happy with their employers can extend their visas.
Reports have shown that this step is part of Indonesian President Joko Widodo's plan to professionalise the informal employment sector.
Amidst the worries about domestic workers being mistreated abroad, the authorities had announced a roadmap in 2012 to stop sending Indonesian maids abroad by 2017.
Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies' President Jeffrey Foo has said that Indonesia should look more into enhancing the skill sets of its workers in order to enable them to be employed as specialised caregivers or trained nannies.
"Then, they will certainly be able to draw a higher wage of more than RM 1,000." He also pointed out that percentage of Indonesian maids had decreased tremendously over the last seven years and said, "We used to have about 300,000 registered domestic maids some six or seven years ago and 80% of them were Indonesians. Now the total number of maids has dropped to less than 200,000, of which 50,000 are Indonesians."