Skip to main content

Measures to help in managing maids

  • The Straits Times (24 September 2015): Tighter screening of maids needed
  • The Straits Times (24 September 2015): What does medical insurance cover? 
  • The Straits Times Online (24 September 2015): Employers have role to play in maid's health

Measures to help in managing maids

- Straits Times, 29 September 2015

1. I refer to the letters by Ms Lim Wan Keng ("Tighter screening of maids needed"), Ms Shamim Moledina ("What does medical insurance cover?"); both published last Thursday) and Ms Ada Chan Siew Foen ("Employers have role to play in maids' health"; Forum Online, last Thursday).

2. In determining the types of health tests to be made mandatory for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and the frequency with which the tests should be administered, there is a need to balance health concerns against the costs and inconvenience to employers.

3. To strike this balance, FDWs have to undergo basic pre-employment medical examinations before they start work in Singapore.

4. These include checks for conditions like heart and neurological disorders, infectious diseases, general mental health and physical fitness.

5. In addition, all FDWs have to undergo mandatory six-monthly medical checks for infectious conditions such as syphilis and tuberculosis, as well as a pregnancy test.

6. We acknowledge that some employers may find these basic tests inadequate for their needs.

7. We urge such employers to voluntarily send their FDWs for other optional medical checks, such as for hepatitis, which are widely available, as they deem necessary.

8. They may wish to consult their family doctor on the types of tests needed to address their specific concerns and the frequency that the tests should be administered.

9. In a similar vein, in determining the minimum insurance coverage that employers should purchase, a balance also needs to be struck.

10. Currently, employers are required to buy medical insurance for their FDW, with a minimum cover of $15,000 for inpatient care and day surgery.

11. If employers wish to limit their risk exposure, they are encouraged to buy coverage for more than this minimum sum.

12. Employers may also send the FDW home to continue treatment in her home country once the FDW's condition has stabilised and she is deemed medically fit to travel.

13. FDWs convicted of violating Singapore's laws are debarred from working in Singapore.

14. In addition, the Ministry of Manpower maintains a channel for employers to provide feedback on their former FDWs.

15. Employment agencies are required to convey to prospective employers of the FDW any such feedback.

16. This is to enable the prospective employer to make an informed decision on whether to hire the FDW.

17. More information on managing FDWs is available at


Tighter screening of maids needed

-The Straits Times, 24 September 2015

As a mother with young children at home with a domestic helper, yesterday's news was disturbing ("Maid jailed for sex with employer's teenage son").

The report stated that the maid had a sexually transmitted disease. I wonder why this was not picked up during her regular medical check-up every half a year.

Perhaps the authorities could widen the scope of conditions to be checked during medical check-ups for maids. For example, diseases such as hepatitis B, which is contagious, are not screened as part of the mandatory health check. For my helpers, I had to specifically ask the agents to add in this item for checking.

The health screening packages for maids are very basic and do not pick up any pre-existing conditions or screen for signs of depression or other mental disorders.

The standard medical insurance for maids also does not cover normal medical bills.

When returning maids come back to Singapore to seek new employment, are they screened for any police records, such as if they had previously run away from their employers? This information would be important for prospective new employers.

With more families having both spouses working these days, leaving more vulnerable young and elderly people at home alone with maids, there needs to be tighter screening of maids, to safeguard the welfare of families.


What does medical insurance cover?

- The Straits Times, 24 September 2015

I was a little confused after reading Madam Brenda Ho Chi Chia's letter about a maid's difficulty in getting treatment for cancer in Singapore due to the cost ("Doc gave maid hope in cancer battle"; last Friday),

Don't employers have to take out medical insurance for their maids, and is it not the employers' responsibility to get their maids treated for their medical conditions?

Perhaps the authorities could clarify what is covered under maids' medical insurance, and what employers' responsibilities are if their maids come down with serious illnesses like cancer.


Employers have role to play in maid's health

- The Straits Times Online, 24 September 2015 

In her letter ("Tighter screening of maids needed"; Sept 24), Ms Lim Wan Keng said that health screening packages for maids are very basic and do not pick up pre-existing conditions or screen for signs of depression or other mental disorders.

She also said that the standard medical insurance for maids does not cover normal medical bills.

While the standard medical insurance for maids covers accidents, and not normal medical bills, there are riders that can be purchased to cover maids' mental conditions, including hospitalisation and specialist treatment for any mental condition.

This may help to reduce the financial burden on employers if maids are found to be mentally distressed.

When foreign maids enter Singapore the first time, they are required to undergo basic physical health screening, which includes blood and urine tests, chest X-rays and medical examination by a general practitioner.

It would be a real challenge for GPs to examine maids' mental health because there may be no apparent symptoms in such new workers.

Requiring maids to undergo mental health assessment when they first enter Singapore for work could put their employment prospects in jeopardy. Also, there is still a global social stigma associated with mental disorders.

The responsibility still lies with maid employers. If employers notice any strange behaviour in their maids, they can have them examined by psychological counsellors or trained clinical psychologists.

If the maids are deemed to have a mental health issue, they should be referred to psychiatrists.

When it comes to maids' regular medical check-ups, perhaps the frequency should be increased to once every three months, instead of the current half-yearly checks.