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Safeguards to ensure well-being of foreign domestic helpers

  • The Straits Times Online (12 February 2016): Regular monitoring of maid welfare needed

Safeguards to ensure well-being of foreign domestic helpers
- Straits Times, 22 February 2016

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes the well-being of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) seriously. Many of the suggestions raised by Mrs Sakina Yusuf Kagda ("Regular monitoring of maid welfare needed"; Forum Online, Feb 12) are already in place.
  2. We have strict laws clearly laying out the responsibilities of employers and employment agencies towards the well-being of FDWs, such as ensuring they have adequate food and rest.
  3. MOM takes allegations of FDWs' mistreatment seriously and thoroughly investigates such reports. Anyone who has violated our laws is taken to task and penalties include fines, jail terms and permanently barring such employers from hiring FDWs.
  4. Beyond legal protection, we make it mandatory for all new FDWs to attend a Settling-In Programme where they are educated on their rights and responsibilities.
  5. They are also informed of various assistance channels, including a dedicated MOM FDW hotline.
  6. Even after their deployment to households, MOM continues to engage FDWs through various outreach efforts such as roadshows and newsletters.
  7. We also conduct one-on-one interviews with close to 3,000 first-time FDWs each year to ensure they are settling in well.
  8. Our surveys consistently show that more than nine in 10 of FDWs are satisfied working in Singapore and eight in 10 would recommend their friends or relatives to work here.
  9. We assure Mrs Kagda and members of the public that MOM remains committed to ensuring the welfare and dignity of all workers in Singapore.
  10. Anyone with information on suspected offences involving FDWs, such as mistreatment, can also write in to or call MOM on (65) 6438 5122.

Regular monitoring of maid welfare needed
- Straits Times Online, 12 February 2016

It was unnerving to read about two cases involving maids in one day ("Probation for retiree guilty of maid abuse" and "Workers' group sees first case of maid fleeing via rubbish chute"; both published on Feb 11).

It is time that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) took more positive and strict action to stop the abuse of maids, who leave their countries and loved ones to come here to toil in our homes.

They come to earn an honest living and not to be abused or deprived of sustenance. It seems that in some employers' homes, they are virtual prisoners.

MOM should make it compulsory for maids to be given their agencies' addresses and telephone numbers, as well as other helplines, before they are sent to their new employers.

They should also be made aware of what they should tolerate and what they should not, and to call for help without fear if they encounter abuse.

MOM and agencies should make employers agree to give maids three full meals a day.

It should also be made mandatory for agencies to call or visit the maids at their places of employment at least once, to make sure they are settled in. Phone contact must be kept throughout.

These maids are vulnerable and need to be given protection before, and not after, they hurt themselves.