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Speech at the Centre for Domestic Employees’ Foreign Domestic Workers’ May Day Celebrations

Minister Of State for Manpower Mr Sam Tan , Youth Park

Ms Mary Liew
President, NTUC Central Committee

Mr Heng Chee How
Deputy Secretary General, NTUC

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang
Chairman, Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE)

Mr Melvin Yong
Organizing Chairman

Distinguished guests 

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good afternoon and a happy May Day to everyone. It is my pleasure to join you today to celebrate your hard work, taking care of our homes and families.

    Appreciation for FDWs’ Hard Work
  2. I would like to thank CDE for organizing this meaningful celebration. May Day is a day to commemorate the contributions of all workers. Foreign domestic workers (FDWs), have made sacrifices, leaving their families back home to come to Singapore, to work. They have to cope with living and working in a new environment and adapting to our local culture. Making these transitions is not easy. However, many have shown the resilience to do so in order to support their families back home. 
  3. Many families in Singapore depend on FDWs to help out at home – cooking, cleaning and taking care of our loved ones. Because of their dedication and support, we are able to better manage our various responsibilities. Therefore, we would like to thank all of you here today. Let us give all our FDWs a big round of applause.

    Close Employer-FDW bonds 
  4. I am heartened to note that many employers and FDWs enjoy a harmonious employer-employee relationship. Many employers recognize and appreciate the work of their FDWs. They are also very understanding and do what they can to help their FDWs adjust to living and working in Singapore. Many employers also realize that good communication is key to make the relationship work and make the extra effort to communicate patiently and clearly to their FDWs. As their FDWs help take care of their households, in return, these employers take care of their FDWs’ welfare and well-being. 
  5. Some employers have even gone a step further and treat their FDWs as part of their family. Take for example, Madam Joreen Liu, a 29 year old office manager who was featured recently on ONE FM 91.3’s #1 Breakfast Show:
    a. She treats her FDW, Madam Sumiati, as part of the family and bought a bicycle for Madam Sumiati’s son for his birthday last year. She also gave Madam Sumiati extra money to organize a birthday celebration back home.

    Enhancements to Personal Accident Insurance Requirements
  6. Besides employers, the Government also has a role to play to ensure that FDWs are adequately protected and have peace of mind while they work in Singapore. We regularly review our policies, taking into consideration constructive feedback from stakeholders. 
  7. Since Jan this year, CDE has asked that the Government review the Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) since the last review of PAI requirements was done in 2008. The current level of protection of PAI is no longer sufficient in the event that an accident happens and the FDW is no longer able to provide for her family. 
  8. Indeed, some employers have also encountered situations where their FDW gets into an accident and is no longer able to work. They have asked if more can be done to protect the families of their FDWs in such situations. 
  9. MOM has carefully reviewed our policy on PAI requirements for FDWs and will be making the following changes.
  10. First, to keep pace with the increase in FDWs’ salaries, we will increase the minimum sum assured which employers need to purchase for their FDWs, from $40,000 to $60,000. 
  11. We will also standardize the coverage of PAI across insurers to ensure that all FDWs receive the same protection throughout their employment in Singapore. To do this, we will stipulate that the Personal Accident Insurance for FDWs must cover any sudden, unforeseen and unexpected incident that results in permanent disability or death of the FDW. It must also not impose any exclusion clauses other than those specified by MOM.
  12. Third, in line with employers’ existing responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of their FDWs, we will specify that the period of insurance cover must be from the date the FDW arrives in Singapore to the date she returns to her country at the end of her employment contract or, in the case where she is changing employers, to the date her new work permit is issued. 
  13. Lastly, to ensure that FDWs and their beneficiaries are able to receive compensation quickly, we will provide flexibility for FDWs and their legal representatives to directly file claims instead of relying on their employers to do so on their behalf. A MOM appointed person would also be able to act on behalf of the FDW or next of kin if necessary. 
  14. These changes will take effect from 1 Oct 2017. They will help employers to better protect their FDWs and their families at a slight increase in premiums of about $7 to $15 a year. At the same time, FDWs will have greater peace of mind, be happier and more productive. We trust that these changes will further facilitate a harmonious working relationship between employers and their FDWs. We would like to thank CDE for working closely with us on this review.
  15. Details will be made available to employers and Employment Agencies soon.

  16. Singapore may be a small country but we have a big heart. As we celebrate May Day and show our appreciation for our workers, we should also continue to show care and concern for our FDWs who are helping many of us to take care of our families. Happy May Day! Thank you.