Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on Guidelines for Cross-deployment of Foreign Domestic Workers and Available Outreach to Ensure Awareness of Rights and Available Platforms to Seek Assistance
NOTICE PAPER NO. 64 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 5 OCTOBER 2020
QUESTION NO. 90 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Mr Yip Hon Weng
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether guidelines for cross-deployment of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) can be tightened and made available to both employers and FDWs for greater clarity; (b) what kind of outreach has been done to ensure employers and FDWs are aware of their rights and the platforms to seek assistance; and (c) how can the Ministry better address FDWs' fears of losing their jobs if they report errant employers.
- Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) generally should perform household and domestic duties only at the residential address stated in the work permit. With the consent of the FDW, an employer can deploy the FDW to perform household duties at a relative’s house to look after the employer’s child or aged parent under the supervision of the relative. In such situations, the employer is required to inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of any such arrangements made, and must ensure that the FDW does not perform the full load of housework in both households.
- This approach balances the interest and well-being of the FDW and accommodates variations in household living arrangements in a practical way. The rules concerning how FDWs can be deployed are published in the FDW’s Guidebook (which is given out to all first-time FDWs) and in the FDW Employer’s Guide (which employers can download from MOM’s website). During the FDW Settling-in Programme (SIP), first-time FDWs are also informed of the scenarios and circumstances under which they are allowed to work outside of their employer’s household. Likewise, first-time employers are briefed through the Employers’ Orientation Programme (EOP). The SIP and EOP also provide specific examples on arrangements that are disallowed. For example, an FDW is not allowed to work for a neighbour after completing chores for an employer, and an employer is not allowed to ask an FDW to engage in cleaning activities in their offices or shop spaces.
- In addition, the SIP educates first-time FDWs on the list of support channels that they can go to for assistance. We have also started a programme to interview first-time FDWs conducted in their native languages, where they are able to raise any employment or well-being issues.
- FDWs who are illegally deployed should step forward to report their cases to MOM. Those who are assisting in MOM investigations will not be repatriated. The Ministry will assist affected FDWs to look for temporary employment or transfer to another employer during and after the investigation is completed. There have also been instances where FDWs made unsubstantiated complaints against their employers. This is why it is important for MOM to hear both sides and investigate, so as to arrive at a fair conclusion.