Should Buy Now, Pay Later scheme be allowed for Migrant Domestic Workers?

MDW, Migrant, Domestic, Worker, Mobile, Phone, Employer, BNPL, Debt, Collection, Bill, Scheme

Responding to a Parliamentary Question (“PQ”) on the Buy Now, Pay Later (“BNPL”) scheme Filed by MP Mr Desmond Choo on 5 April 2022.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) assessed that the BNPL scheme does not pose any significant risks of consumer indebtedness and will continue to monitor the situation.

However, mobile phone retailers are coming out with the BNPL schemes and are targeting Migrant Domestic Workers (“MDWs”).

Should such a scheme be allowed and extended to the MDWs?

Screenshot of a Mobile Phone Retailer Facebook's Post
Screenshot of a Mobile Phone Retailer Facebook's Post

Furthermore, in the event of late payment by the MDWs, the retailers will often reach out to the employer to chase its payment.

In most cases, the employer of the MDW is not aware or informed of such purchases made by the MDW. Therefore, it will be unfair for the employer to be held liable for any loans or BNPL schemes that the MDW took up without the authorisation or approval from its employer.

Screenshot of a Employer's Facebook Post
Screenshot of a Employer's Facebook Post

The Debt Collection Bill may have come timely to deter some of these retailers from harassing these employers from these illegal approaches to the debt collection method. Still, it may not stop them totally from coming out with new ways or taking another approach.

Should such a scheme be extended to non-Singaporeans, in particular, migrant domestic workers?

Here is another illustrated scenario:

An MDW can, in her last working month, deliberately sign up for a new mobile phone on a BNPL scheme, knowing that she will be returning to her home country without the intention to pay.

The employer of such an MDW will be harassed or asked to pay up for her former MDW purchase if the retailer cannot reach the MDW.

In light of the above, I urge the Government to review the scheme concerning MDW to protect unsuspecting employers. Employers shouId not be punished for the deeds of their MDW outside of their domestic duties.

It should be made illegal for retailers to chase employers for payment owed by MDWs.

Zhiwen

This is a reader contributed article.

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