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Employers' responsibility to ensure safety of maids

  • The Straits Times (13 May 2009) : Employers' responsibility to ensure safety of maids
  • The Straits Times (06 May 2009) : Catch-22?
  • The Straits Times (06 May 2009) : How Do We Stop This?


Employers' responsibility to ensure safety of maids
- The Straits Times, 13 May 2009

We thank Mr Ong Wee Liang and Mr Tan Ho Gian for the letters highlighting the safety of foreign domestic workers (FDW).

2.   In the incident highlighted by Mr Ong, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has established that the subject in the photograph was a relative of the homeowner. The household does not employ any FDW. MOM has taken the opportunity to advise the homeowner to take precautions while cleaning windows.

3.   The incident highlighted by Mr Tan is still under investigation by MOM. The Police note that Mr Tan had called for assistance on two occasions regarding the incident. The Police had responded both times and although the officers did not observe the maid endangering herself, they had advised the house occupant to hang her clothes in a safe manner. The Police had also engaged the condominium security both times and were informed on the second visit that a warning letter had been sent to the occupant and that further action would be taken by the condominium management if the situation continued.

4.   MOM would like to remind employers that it is their responsibility to ensure that FDWs carry out their domestic chores in a safe manner. Employers and members of the household should not put FDWs in situations which endanger their lives or personal safety. Those who do so may face prosecution and on conviction, the employer will also be barred from employing an FDW in future.

5.   Between January and March 2009, MOM charged two employers for failing to ensure that their FDWs performed their duties in a safe manner. They received the maximum fine of $5,000 each.

6.   We urge anyone who spots FDWs working dangerously to report to MOM at our FDW hotline (1800 339 5505) or via e-mail at


- The Straits Times, 06 May 2009

Recently, I spotted a maid standing perilously on a stool in a fifth-floor apartment of a condominium, as she tried to slot a bamboo pole across the external frame of two open windows. Worried, I called out to her not to do it as it was dangerous. There was a possibility of her falling, and if the pole fell, it could endanger passers-by below. The maid ignored my appeal and carried on even after the condo management office told her to stop. Finally, I called the police, only to be given a classic Catch-22 reply: That the police could act only if there was a fatality.


How Do We Stop This?
- The Straits Times, 06 May 2009

I was shocked last Saturday morning when I saw a woman balancing precariously on the window ledge of a fourth- floor flat at Blk 94B, Bedok North Avenue 4, cleaning windows. This despite all the warnings to residents not to allow their maids or anyone to do so.

Home owners must be vigilant and ensure that their maids or cleaners from part-time cleaning agencies understand that such potentially fatal balancing acts do not occur.

Perhaps it is time to make the owners or occupiers of flats liable for such a practice if it is carried out by their maids; the same goes for cleaning agencies for their staff. The relevant authorities should also enact stricter rules and enforcement.