Starting in mid-2012, foreign workers taking on domestic work in Singapore will have to undergo a course known as the Settling-in Programme (SIP), announced Minister of State for Manpower, Tan Chuan-jin.  The ministry’s press release on this matter can be found here.

The SIP will incorporate the existing Safety Awareness Course, but will include new modules on adapting to living and working in Singapore, as well as conditions of employment. The SIP will be conducted in English or the foreign domestic worker’s native language.

The English language test  will now be scrapped. This had been a controversy when in May this year, Sulastri Wardoyo from Indonesia killed herself at a maid hostel in Singapore after failing the test three times. Aspiring domestic workers would have borrowed money to pay for job placement and “training” in their home countries, and thus failing to secure a job because of the English language test would put them in serious difficulty. During the controversy, many employers pointed out that they managed anyway to communicate with their workers regardless of the test.

The ministry reiterated that other eligibility requirements remain unchanged. These were that maids should have a minimum of eight years of formal education and be at least 23 years old.

The Straits Times, in a follow-up story Dec 6, 2011, indicated that

With the SIP, employers may need to pay $50 to $100 more in a one-off payment to get a first-time maid, according to preliminary estimates by the MOM. . . .  Currently, it costs $7 to register for the English test and another $28 for the half-day Safety Awareness Course, which will be included in the SIP.”