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Measures in place to support well-being of migrant domestic workers

We thank Karen Yip Lai Kham for her letter “Domestic helpers need care for their mental well-being too” (13 Feb).

Employers play an important role in supporting the well-being of their MDWs.

Besides food and accommodation, MDW employers are required to provide sufficient daily rest periods and weekly rest days for their MDWs. Employers must also ensure their MDWs have at least one rest day each month that cannot be compensated for. This allows MDWs to recharge from work and form networks of support outside the household.

MOM has a range of measures to support the well-being of MDWs. All first-time MDWs are required to attend a settling-in programme when they arrive, where they are guided on how to manage stress and the avenues to seek help.

In addition, MOM requires employment agencies to check if the MDWs are settling in well within three months of their placement. We partner the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) to interview MDWs twice within the first year of employment to check if they are adjusting well to their new work environment. We also work with non-governmental organisations to make available resources and activities that support the mental well-being of MDWs.

MDWs who need help can call the MOM MDW Helpline on 1800-339-5505 or non-governmental organisations such as CDE at 1800-2255-233 for advice and support in their native languages.

Joann Tan
Director, Engagement
Foreign Manpower Management Division

Do more to improve maids’ well-being, 13 Feb 2024, The Straits Times

It is heartening to see the strong emphasis placed on national mental health and well-being during the recent parliamentary debate (MPs propose ways to fight mental health stigma, improve care, 7 Feb).

In a similar vein, I hope that MOM can look into augmenting measures to improve the mental well-being of foreign domestic workers, who have contributed in no small way to our society.

I feel saddened by the experience of my former domestic helper, who had returned home after working with our family for six years.

Due to some unfortunate twist of events, she had to come back to Singapore to work with another family.

In her current employment, she gets only the mandatory one day off a month.

Other than that, she was able to leave the house only once in the past few months.

When she worked for us, she had days off every week and a daily 30-minute break to get out of the house for some personal time and space.

While employers’ concerns that their foreign domestic workers could get into the wrong company on their days off are understandable, this should be balanced with a greater awareness of the need to provide such domestic workers with more than just food and lodging for the sake of their mental well-being.

Karen Yip Lai Kham