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Employment contracts allow early termination to maintain flexibility for employers and FDWs

  • TODAY Voices letter (31 May 2017): Maid employers need fairer contracts, better protection

Employment contracts allow early termination to maintain flexibility for employers and FDWs

– TODAY, 31 May 2017

  1. We refer to the letter, “Maid employers need fairer contracts, better protection” (31 May).
  2. We understand the inconvenience that employers face should they need to replace their foreign domestic workers (FDWs), especially those who help to look after their young children or elderly at home.
  3. This is why it is important for employment agencies to help employers find the right FDW for their needs and for both employers and FDWs to be accommodating and communicate with each other to make the employment relationship work.
  4. Similar to other employer-employee relationship, the employment contract allows both the employer and employee to terminate their employment relationship at any time. Such a decision is never taken lightly. Sometimes it is because circumstances change leading to changes in job scope; at other times, the family situation of the FDW may change.
  5. The two year validity period of the FDW’s work permit does not mean that the FDW is bonded to work for the employer for two years or the employer to the FDW. An early termination of an employment contract is allowed, so as to maintain flexibility for both the employer and FDW. That said, many employment agencies do provide assistance to employers, such as finding a replacement, if the FDW terminates her employment contract early.
  6. Employers are responsible for the cost of sending their FDWs home. This responsibility forms part of the conditions for granting a work permit and is made known to employers at the point of work permit application. This is to prevent a situation where FDWs, upon termination of their employment, are left stranded here with no other means to return home.

Maid employers need fairer contracts, better protection

– TODAY VOICES, 31 May 2017

  1. Employers will soon have to provide insurance cover of at least $60,000, up from $40,000, for their maids. With this, employers are expected to pay more (Foreign domestic workers to be better insured against accidents from Oct; May 8).
  2. While there are laws to protect foreign domestic workers here, there must also be laws to protect employers. Selecting a suitable worker involves luck, and maid agencies may also give inaccurate information in the maid’s biodata.
  3. People with disabilities and the elderly who are frail may have no choice but to employ a maid to help out with household chores. And not every one of them is financially privileged.
  4. It would give them a lot of trouble if their maids choose to end their contract prematurely because of minor issues. Families who require urgent help would suffer, as they cannot stop the maid from leaving.The airfare, agency and administrative fees, insurance and loans could cost nearly $5,000 if an employer has to terminate the contract and get a new maid.
  5. And as rules are stepped up to protect maids better, more of them may break their contract if they discover that the work environment is not to their liking or up to their expectations.
  6. The authorities should come up with a fairer employment contract, aimed at protecting employers when their maids break their contract. For instance, if a maid decides to break her contract, she should not be entitled to an air ticket paid by her employer for her repatriation.
  7. This would prevent maids from breaking their contracts whenever they want to, so that employers are not at the losing end.
  8. I hope that the Manpower Ministry will consider this and take action to protect employers’ rights.