Singaporeans hiring Indonesian maids will need to make a one-off payment to an insurer when starting or renewing contracts under revised rules taking effect from next month.

Designed to give domestic workers more protection against breaches of employment terms, the new policy was announced by the Indonesian Embassy. It will take effect from February 1.

Employers will have to pay an insurer for a performance bond of S$6,000 (US$4,590), but it will only be redeemed if the maid’s contract is breached or if she suffers abuse. When a violation occurs the insurance agency will pay the embassy and then claim the money from the employer.

Security bonds are already required by the Ministry of Manpower and employers will face an additional cost of only S$70 (US$54) under the new measure. Indonesia has said it does not expect the rule change to have any impact on hiring activity.

A similar scheme has been used by the Philippines for more than 20 years to protect its nationals working in Singapore, though the costs are lower. Employers are required to pay about S$40 (US$30) to an insurer if they go through a hiring agency, in lieu of a S$2,000 (US$1,531) bond.

An estimated 120,000 Indonesians work as maids in Singapore.