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Single employer ensures clear responsibility to work pass holders

The Straits Times (12 Sept 2020): “Clamp down on maids who work part time illegally”

The Straits Times (24 Sept 2020): “Make it legal for maids to work part-time”

The Straits Times (26 Sept 2020): “Allowing maids to work part-time a kind but unwise move”

The Straits Times (28 Sept 2020): “Let employer, maid enter 'willing seller - willing buyer' arrangement”

The Straits Times (29 Sept 2020): “Maids just trying to earn a few extra dollars”

The Straits Times (29 Sept 2020): “Humane to let maids work limited hours part-time”

The Straits Times (29 Sept 2020): “Should maids be allowed to work part-time?”


Single employer ensures clear responsibility to work pass holders
- The Straits Times, 3 Oct, 2020


We thank the various writers for their feedback on the matter of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) being allowed to work part-time.

A foreigner can work in Singapore only if there is an employer willing to undertake responsibilities such as timely payments of salary, prevention of work injuries, provision of medical care and eventual repatriation when the work pass is cancelled.

We require all work pass holders, including FDWs, to work for only their designated employers so that there is no dispute over who is responsible for the worker. This clarity is critical to safeguard the workers' interests and prevent problems for the broader community.

While we understand some work pass holders may wish to earn more through extra work, this can have unintended consequences for them and their employers. Work pass holders, therefore, cannot take on additional jobs or engage in activities to earn additional income here. They should instead consider if the salary offered by their employer is acceptable before taking up the job in Singapore.

In the case of FDWs, we are also concerned about the impact on their well-being and ability to perform their duties. Instead of working as FDWs, those with capacity to do more can consider working for companies that specialise in house-cleaning or

care services, where they have potential to earn overtime pay, subject to statutory safeguards being met. Likewise, employers should avail themselves of such services if they prefer not to have a full-time FDW, instead of procuring services illegally from other FDWs in Singapore.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes a serious view of illegal employment. Between 2017 and last year, MOM took more than 30 FDWs to task each year for working illegally. About half of these cases involved FDWs engaging in non-domestic work such as selling items in public areas or referring other FDWs to take up loans from moneylenders.

MOM investigations also probe into whether any other parties, such as cleaning agencies, facilitated the FDW's illegal employment. No action is taken against FDW employers if the investigation shows that they were not involved.

Jeanette Har
Director, Well-being Department
Ministry of Manpower


Clamp down on maids who work part time illegally - The Straits Times, 12 Sept, 2020
The issue of domestic maids working illegally for multiple households against their will has become a hot topic on social media.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) clarified its stance on this illegal deployment (550 complaints yearly of maids illegally deployed from 2017 to 2019, Sept 9). However, there are maids who are willing to work illegally as part-time maids during their rest days.

MOM should clamp down on this and take stern action against the cleaning agents that hire them, as well as the maids who work illegally.

Some time ago, I contacted an agent for a part-time maid to clean my house on weekends. I was surprised when the maid told me she worked full time for her employer but did sideline jobs during her days off on weekends. I immediately rejected her service.

I then advertised in the classified ads for a part-time maid. Those who responded were full-time maids holding work permits, but none was a Singaporean or PR.

This indicates that there are plenty of maids working part time illegally, which raises the question: Who is liable for this illegal deployment? Would the innocent employers be liable? Would the person who hires them be liable?

The cleaning agencies should be taken to task for hiring them to be deployed as part-time maids. The agents are breaking the law by abetting a foreigner to work on illegal terms. Households which depend on part-time maids should stop using them and report the agents to the authorities if the part-time maids are already employed full time at another household.

The selfish actions of the agents and part-time maids could saddle their innocent employers with heavy fines and a ban on hiring other maids, while those who use their part-time services may face similar penalties.

Cheng Choon Fei

Make it legal for maids to work part-time- The Straits Times, 24 Sept, 2020

Working a few hours part-time on rest days is moonlighting and is illegal. The law is clear about that (Clamp down on maids who work part-time illegally; Sept 12).

But there is a reason why some maids still do it.

It is the same as why some Singaporeans hold two jobs - to make ends meet or pay off their debts. I know what poverty is and why, in my younger days, I had to work while others could rest.

The household work of every family is different and some families really do not require full-time maids. Hence, limited part-time work would be ideal for their needs. Allowing maids to bridge this gap would be a good match.

If the law can legally allow maids to work on rest days and be paid in lieu of their day off, why can't the law be tweaked to allow them to work four to five hours for other families who need them most when their employers don't require their services?

Poverty and hardship forced these maids to incur thousands of dollars of debt to pay recruitment agents to secure jobs here, resulting in them working with no pay for up to a year's salary.

We need to recognise why they had to leave their children behind to travel thousands of kilometres to work overseas. Earning money to support their families back home is the prime objective.

We should empathise with their situation to help them financially within reasonable limits.

If we allow them to put in a few hours of part-time work on domestic tasks on their rest days in private homes, they can earn some extra income.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

Allowing maids to work part-time a kind but unwise move - The Straits Times, 26 Sept 2020

Much as I empathise with maids in Singapore who want to work part-time to earn some extra income on their day of rest, I do not think it is a feasible scheme (Make it legal for maids to work part-time, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi, Sept 24).

First, a day of rest must be set aside for the maid to recharge, to connect with her family back home or even to enjoy some food or drink with her compatriots at the park.

Some maids are so stressed at their employers' workplaces that taking away that day of rest might literally be the straw that breaks the camel's back - even if the maid does it of her own volition.

Second, no employer will be so altruistic as to allow his maid such extra employment.

Third, if any mishap were to arise as a result of such part-time work, who is to take responsibility for the cost of recuperation of the maid?

Anyone who needs a maid on a part-time basis can get it from agencies that specialise in part-time maids.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

Let employer, maid enter ‘willing seller – willing buyer’ arrangement - The Straits Times, 28 Sep 2020

I agree with the rationale behind Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi's proposal to let maids work part-time (Make it legal for maids to work part-time, Sept 24).

But legalising it might entice abusive employers to unilaterally force their maids, against their will, into arrangements detrimental to the latter's interests.

The existing rules should be left unchanged to preclude a free hand to the employers.

Nevertheless, employers and their maids should be allowed to reach an amicable prearrangement on a "willing seller - willing buyer" basis.

To preclude dispute, the two parties should enter into a simple written agreement, signed by both parties and copied to the maid's agent, who in turn, will serve as witness to the agreement.

The Manpower Ministry should seriously consider such a compromise, at least on a trial basis, and perhaps establish a standard agreement for the employer, the maid and the maid agent (as a witnessing party) to adopt.

Terms and conditions in the agreement should include the address and owner's particulars of the second residence, nature of work, fee payable per hour, termination of the agreement by either party at short notice (say one week), and other details as deemed fit.

This will be a winning proposition for all parties - it helps the employer in cost saving, it allows maids to earn side income legally and helps the Government lower the number of foreign domestic workers that have to be imported in.

Teoh Woi Khon

Maids just trying to earn a few extra dollars - The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2020

Much has been discussed and debated about allowing maids to work part-time, the risk involved and the legal obligations of all parties in this arrangement.

We are spending time questioning and justifying whether maids should be allowed to take on an added cleaning activity on their days off.

They are doing this to earn the extra few tens of dollars each time. I'm sure if given a choice, they would rather spend their only day off work resting than cleaning another household.

I can't see the reason for the fuss over taking on part-time jobs if the situation calls for it, especially when one has to put bread on the table.

Perhaps the Ministry of Manpower would like to clarify.

Roland Chong Kwong Min

Humane to let maids work limited hours part-time - The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2020

I disagree with the concerns Mr Phillip Tan Fong Lip raised over domestic helpers and part-time employment (Allowing maids to work part-time a kind but unwise move, Sept 26).

Mr Tan should note that, in the status quo, maids already have the option of doing additional work for their employer during official days off. There is an incongruence in permitting such arrangements while prohibiting external engagements.

Moreover, presenting the option of part-time employment does not take away the option of a rest day for maids who would rather unwind.

believe that each maid is best qualified to judge her own capacity for work and need for rest. I see no issue with giving maids this option to choose what they prefer.

Second, on employer altruism, Mr Tan makes sweeping generalisations about the maid-employer relationship.

I employ a maid. If I knew that their services were not required around the clock, why would I object to their pursuing other beneficial endeavours during their "downtime"? Who am I to place arbitrary limits?

Third, on the issue of liability, one imagines that part-time work is not so hazardous as to make this a decisive argument.

Even if a mishap were to occur, the standard logic of liability - the location, time in relation to clocked hours, and the employer who assigned the duty leading to injury - would surely apply.

In the larger scheme of things, there is no good reason for our inclusive society to deny maids meaningful opportunities.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi