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Oral Answer by Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on defining domestic workers' duties and job scopes, specialised trainings and reference channel

Notice paper no. 657 of 2017 for the sitting on 8 May 2017
Question no. 1151 for oral answer

MP: Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will (i) consider defining domestic workers' duties and job scopes (ii) require specialised training for domestic workers asked to perform caregiving work (iii) link the reference channel comments by employers to the defined duties and allow domestic workers to respond to the comments in line with human resource management best practices.

  1. The role of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore is defined in our laws. The Employment of Foreign Manpower Regulations states that FDWs can only perform household and domestic duties. Detailing every task would be overly prescriptive and impractical as the needs vary across households. 
  2. A growing number of employers hire FDWs to assist in caring for children, sick or elderly family members. It is in the interest of employers to ensure their FDWs have the skills or are trained to perform caregiving tasks that require special training, for instance, tube feeding, in the light of dangers involved if the caregiver is untrained. Employers should ensure that the FDW is properly trained and is comfortable with performing the task before entrusting her with the task. 
  3. The Ministry of Health and the Agency for Integrated Care have worked with providers to put in place training courses for caregivers. In addition, the Ministry of Health provides a Caregivers’ Training Grant for caregivers of seniors and persons with disabilities, including FDWs, to attend approved training courses to better equip themselves. 
  4. The reference channel does not allow anyone, whether employer or FDW, to post comments. The reference channel only provides an option for employers to leave their contact details and make themselves available to provide personal references for their FDWs. A prospective employer who wishes to find out more about the FDW has to contact the former employer directly to perform the reference check. In a similar vein, the prospective employer can also interview the FDW directly to hear her side of the story before making a hiring decision.