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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on complaints by foreign domestic workers during COVID-19 pandemic

NOTICE PAPER NO. 2128 OF 2020 FOR A SITTING ON 4 JUNE 2020
QUESTION NO. 3646 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

MP: Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye


To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the number of complaints lodged by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) since the COVID-19 pandemic started; and (b) what kinds of assistance, in particular mental health support, are available to FDWs facing conflict with their employers.

Answer

  1. Over the past three months, the Ministry received an average of about eight complaints per 10,000 FDWs each month. This is comparable to the average number of complaints we received in the same period last year. While some FDWs had concerns about not having suitable or enough food, others had issues with their workload. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) investigates all complaints seriously and will take the party responsible to task in accordance with our laws. We will also provide whatever assistance and support we can to the aggrieved party.
  2. Apart from raising their concerns to MOM, FDWs who face stress at work or require advice have access to various avenues of support. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) each maintain a 24-hour helpline for FDWs. In addition, CDE partners mental health advocacy organisations such as the Silver Ribbon to provide counselling services for FDWs who need someone to talk to. FAST has also developed various meaningful e-activities for FDWs to participate in, such as online mental resilience talks and exercise programmes, like Zumba, Pilates and yoga sessions, to help FDWs recharge and keep healthy.
  3. As we all adjust to the disruptions in our households due to COVID-19, we encourage employers and FDWs to maintain open communication with each other and exercise extra understanding and sensitivity to each other’s needs. FDWs are an important part of our households and we will continue to work with our partners to safeguard their well-being in Singapore.