New maid capable of doing ....
Maid terminated contract without any penalty
Maid's (FDW) employers faced unfair policies
Why set up a blog?
Maid terminated contract without any penalty
Maid's (FDW) employers faced unfair policies
Why set up a blog?
女佣不甘没休息日, 24天29次虐打失智老妇, 联合晚报, 30 Jun 2016
27 years old Indonesian maid had been found guilty of abusing a 93 years old immobile elderly and suffering dementia. Maid cannot stand the hard work and no off days, thus, decided to vent her displeasure on the vulnerable old lady, for 24 days.
Winter: Activists like TWC2 or HOME are always out to attack Employers. In the bio data, if it is stated FDW prefers off day, I am sure prospective employer will skip that candidate and find another if her job requirement is a no-off FDW. Some FDWs demand weekly off, some rather have more money ... off day compensation of at least $20 per week. It is FDW's choice. FDWs, don't you know you have your rights to choose employer, vice versa?
If you have been cheated, who's your first point of contact? Obviously your agent, they recruited you and marketed (oversell) you. Agent painted a overdo nice picture of rosy life in Spore, with plenty off days, perks, etc ... so go and sort things out with them, why pestering and accusing your employers?
The gate keeper is Ministry of Manpower (MOM) so don't bite on Employers for something that you've chosen or entirely not Employers' fault, eg wanted off days but agency marketed you as no-off. Employers are easiest to be bullied/prey on?
Since you know how to attack or accuse your employer, do you "qualify as vulnerable maid or not treated like human being"? A person viewed herself as not treated like a human cannot voice out or know how to use mobile phones, Facebook, etc! Aren't you a hypocrite cum spoilt brat?
O&M’s provocative ‘Mums and Maids’ spot sparks heated debate, April 2015
Going viral right now is a campaign done by Ogilvy & Mather along with non-profit organisation The Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2).
The polarising campaign draws attention to the fact that sometimes maids tend to know children of the household better than the working mothers. It tries to drive home the point that families, and more specifically mothers, should give maids the day off and aim to get to know their children better. Whether loved or hated, the video has sparked a heated debate.
This morning, Marketing received a call from a mother, who asked not to be named. Angered by the video, she said that she found the ad distasteful and offensive, questioning the ad’s objective. She shared her own story, saying her son had passed away from a serious ailment last year, and she had to work to pay off his medical bills. “Living costs today are immensely high and it is necessary for the mothers to work.” “Is the ad really to promoting giving workers a day off or is it rather to shame and offend mothers?” she asked.
While others may not have had such a strong reaction, there were others who disagreed with the direction of the ad. Firstly, some pointed out that the relation to its final objective of pushing for day offs for maids was unclear.
Working mother Natasha Nair, 39 who works in the communications industry, also told Marketing that had she not read the article initially published on the site, she would have not known this is an ad asking families to give a day off to the maids.
“The ad doesn’t drive home the point that maids need a day off. It could have worked better if the story was a more direct one where we could understand the plights of the maids. Everyone needs a day off. The ad simply comes across as mothers needing to be less busy and more present with their children,” Nair said.
Alethia Tiang, 28 who works in the media industry said: “It drives home a very fair and valid point in our society today. However I don’t really see the obvious link in the campaign to giving the maids a day off. I get the idea but it’s like saying ‘give your maids day offs to chase them away from spending too much time with your child.’”
Secondly, others felt both parents should be targeted, and not just the moms. Echoing similar sentiments is Nabila Zia, 30, working in the shipping industry, who told Marketing that she feels that the ad should have been directed to both parents and not the mother.
While not a mom, Ankita Varma, aged 27 who works with a local newspaper also said the ad should not be applauded. Most mothers today have to work, which is often why families have to have help in the first place.
“While it’s shocking we have to still cajole people to give their helpers a day off (an issue that should by no means be ignored), this campaign misses that point entirely if you ask me. Also, why were fathers not quizzed in the video?” she asks.
Meanwhile, administrative assistant Crissana Miguel aged 34, who is living in Singapore while her daughter is back home in Manila with her extended family, said that her family clearly knows more about her daughter than she does. “It is natural they would know a lot more about her than I do because they spend more time with her. So I think the video is alright as it just shows that the maids are more aware of what is going on with the children. This can be a good thing because it shows parents place them in good hands. Parents should not feel bad about that.”
O&M and ad agencies speak up:
When asked to respond to the comments by the public, O&M told Marketing that the agency is “glad to see that the film is attracting attention and raising awareness of the issue of worker rights.” “Our mission is to bring the problem to light, get people talking and ultimately change behavior. There will be many opinions on the video but the important thing is to focus on the end goal – making sure domestic workers have a weekly day off.”
Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer at JWT said that while the observation is a disturbing one, trying to use it to convince parents to give a day-off is a stretch. “I think the ad needs to get down to the root of why parents are so dependent on their maids that they can’t even survive a day without their help. Do the parents need the weekends for themselves to recuperate from the week? Are they so afraid of handling the child themselves for a full day? Currently, it feels like a forced-fit based on an interesting observation,” said Cheng. “ Maybe there’s a more positive way to approach this campaign because there’s real enjoyment in being with our kids and even working together as parents to overcome the little naughty trials,” said Cheng.
Irene Wong, CEO of Grey Group Malaysia also echoes similar sentiments raised by our readers. She asks why only mothers are at the center of this conversation. She adds that this is a “backward Asian approach” towards family role as fathers are not in the video at all. “Do they expect fathers to know the kids as well as in this video? Mums are doubling up as a second dad to win the daily bread to help secure the future of their kids,” she adds.
Anu Banu • This ad is a badly scripted and poorly executed one. Shaming Singapore moms and glorifying the maids. The friction this ad will create between the employers and employees is overlooked by the agency in their quest for some awards in forthcoming award shows. This is a totally insincere campaign. MOM is not sleeping that people from ad world should take up the cause for domestic helpers in Singapore.
Kishy Simanjuntak • this might be scripted but,in fact, this not only happened in Singapore, in Indonesia , especially for the past 5 years, most of the children (who lives in a big metropolitan city) spend more time with their maid, although not all the maid here know how to handle kids, but still they (the children) spend more time with the maid. So if it is REALLY scripted,it is based on a truth that happens in the society
Lily • This advert missed the point entirely (Ogilvy, seriously?) What if mothers knew their children better, does it make it any less of the domestic workers' rights to get a day off? Helpers deserve a day off without a question, and the emotion or message the advert needed to convey should have been around providing basic human rights & empathy to those that care for our children so well, instead of shaming mothers. Women already feel the guilt but often need to work (to keep these helpers employed, mind you!). Bonding with your child is a very strong emotional driver and very separate to the fact that maids need, want and deserve a day off.
Complete lack of thought, consideration and talent went into producing this very distasteful advert. Not clever at all.
Lily Jendro Anggono • Are you serious? Putting a painful guilt and spin on mothers (who are already torn between time with their kids and working hard to earn a living) is smart and 'effective' in your eyes? Perhaps you need to grow up, have a family and watch yourself and your wife go through this experience of being made to feel guilty for being absent from your kids before commenting. There are more effective ways to promote the truth that maids need and deserve a day off - not at a mothers' expense. Creative strategy - fail.
ngtitao • You are getting hurt and defensive, and can choose to continue ranting here rather than think of what you should do more to your kids. Keep doing what you are doing and spend some time to think what the future holds when your kids grow up without recalling memories of mom, but auntie.
Pam • ngtitao
I believe you have a comprehension problem. The points everyone is trying to state are: 1) bringing up the point that maids know kids better than mums does NOT bring across the message that maids should get off days, which in case you forgot is supposed to be the whole point of this ad; 2) a lot of working mums will love to spend more time with their kids but can't because they need money to keep the kids alive.
You seem to have an agenda against working mothers or either that are projecting your own issues with your own mother. Accurate? No? See how it feels when people generalize and assume?
aneesha • There are all sorts of people...I do agree no matter what a mom should be closest to the child and every mom wants to be but some dont have choice...the same goes for helpers as well...can they answer the same question about their own kids? may be not because they are here for work same way we go for work.
its the same situation for both so we cant really point a single person.there are many mothers who are working 18 hours a day with only few hours off on weekends because project schedules are to be met apart from that few have to work from home as well and not every in singapore is getting high expat salaries to pay off to two helpers...MOM waives off the levy too for such employers.
another thing is maids do part time work on their off days...to make more money (they make 100-200$ in a single day) while employer and MOM intend to give them physical and mental rest and making their and employers condition worst.and as far as question of selling their bodies that also happens even if MOM has rule of seizing 5000$ security bond from employer and immediate reparation of FDW which leaves employer financially physically and emotionally ridden ...they go through the cycle of looking for a maid again and get them bonded to kids ...its not just the question of giving them off i think most people would give if maids take it as it intended to be.
Florida Flamingo • I appreciate your thoughtful reply. That stated, it is not the issue or problem for the helper to worry that madam is working long shifts. That is between the madam (or sir) and THEIR employer. The only thing the employer of the maid needs to worry about is that their maid is getting a day off. If that means having to hire another person through an agency for that day or that he or she must call on a friend or relative then that is the way it is. Many first world countries do not have helpers. The USA (for example) is known for working more hours with less vacation time than most any other country including Singapore and they do not have helpers at all. What the maid chooses to do on her day off is of no concern to the employer. If she works and gets caught then they can fire her. To make her stay working for your home though 29 days on and 1 off is inexcusable. We have to stop making excuses. There is always an excuse. Grandma is old and needs care. Madam works long shifts herself and who will wash the dishes? It just doesn't matter. Figure it out. This is about exploitation of domestic workers and it must be stopped.
aneesha • Florida Flamingo, many would want to change their fdws....or will not be bothered about what their maids do outside if there was no cost associated to it...they are bothered because its employee's mistake that she is into some illegal work but the employer has to pay for it. i dont think my husband's employer will have to pay when he is caught in some illegal activity company is least bothered what employees do outside.
Pam • ? And your point is? Yes my maid knows my kid better. And your solution to that? She already has her day off. Should I quit my job? Are you going to pay for my kid's food and school fees? And my housing loan? You know, that will be great! Do you actually have a point other than to attack working mothers pointlessly?
Did you even understand my point about the whole premise of this ad? In case I wasn't clear, let me repeat myself: Maids should absolutely have off days. It's their basic right as a human being. Attacking working mothers for not knowing their kids better than their maids? Not quite right. Of course the maid knows the kids better, they spend the whole day with the kids while the mothers are working to put food on the table and a roof over the family's head. Do you mean that if the maids get a day off, the mothers will know the kids better than the maids? Really? I spend all the time i can with the kids when I'm not working, but that's not going to match the amount the maid spends with the kids.
So, really, what IS your solution to this conundrum? Should I quit my job? Fire the maid? Get the government to find food for my kids? Or you?
ngtitao • Pam, Keep giving excuses and worst still, try shifting your responsibility as a mom to me(!). Afterall, I'm not the one who is gonna suffer the consequences when you get old and dump by your kids. You are doing a deal to your future. It's none of my business really. Keep it up!
Quote: "So, really, what IS your solution to this conundrum? Should I quit my job? Fire the maid? Get the government to find food for my kids? Or you?"
And I assume you were being constructive when you expect I could help you with your kids huh? Very constructive indeed. You can also call I'm a troll or whatever, your butthurt is very strong there. Truth is difficult to face.
Clody • another sexist advert. When have fathers who don't spend "enough" time with their children ever been shamed like that? I don't see a single father in the video... Fair enough that maids should get a day off and true that there has been some push back on this very basic human right in Singapore and attitudes may need to change. But using that to make working women feel bad ONCE AGAIN is not ok. The maid helps BOTH parents have careers, not just mothers. And the onus on spending time with the child is on BOTH parents.
Whilst the maid topic is specific to places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, etc. - the pattern of shaming women and making them feel bad about having careers whilst having children is universal. If Ogilvy thinks it's cutting edge creative to pick this up once again - THINK AGAIN!
Cykocyn • This is a BAD advertising campaign. It is not a reliable, nor is it an accurate survey. It shames the role of mothers. No mother is perfect, but to "glorify" the idea that maids know the child better is shameful. It is downright insulting. Shame on the company who created this video. Why don't you ask the child questions like, "Who do you want to put you to sleep?" Or "when you fall down or feel sad, who do you run to, or who do you want a hug from?"
Shame on you who created this video!
Karien van Ditzhuijzen: On Sunday morning I find myself badly hung-over, baking thirty cupcakes for a birthday, preparing a quiche and a pile of salmon cream cheese wraps for a picnic, whilst simultaneously trying, with my hip, to shoo off kids that keep pulling at my skirt for attention. ‘Get out of the kitchen; entertain yourself for a minute, will you. Mama is busy, or do you want to go to school empty handed tomorrow?’
I plod on, head throbbing, and not so silently cursing the fact that there is no time off, ever, for a mother, that we have to work 24/7, with no time to rest and no time to clear our heads from the constant screaming.
I could now write that this experience made me understand the fact that some parents do not give their domestic worker a day off on Sundays. But that would not be true. Even in my miserable sick-to-the-stomach state, I realised that it was not all about me. That there is one group of people even worse off than parents: foreign domestic workers. These brave women who travel to a different country, and leave their own kids to take care of those of someone else. They get up before their employers do, to prepare breakfast, and don’t finish until the last dinner plate is washed up and put away. Or later, if the whim of the employer wants it that way. In Singapore, domestic workers are not covered by the employment act, which means there are no laws regulating their salary, working hours, days off, sick leave, annual leave, overtime pay, or any of those things other workers have a right to. A domestic worker is totally dependent on the generosity of her employer.
Sure, there are many employers that treat their domestic workers well. They even call her part of the family. The problem is, a family member, like a mother, has really crappy collective labour agreements. Family, like a mother, does not get paid, time off, sick leave, treated considerately, et cetera. A domestic worker would be better off protected by clear regulations. Clearer than the recent law in Singapore, claiming that domestic workers have the right to a day off, but still leaving a loophole by stating the worker can be offered extra payment in lieu if she does not get one.
So yes, it sometimes bugs me that as a mother I never get any time off, nor the appreciation I deserve.
Balaji Narasimhan: So by including domestic workers under the employment act, what precisely will change?
Let me answer that. Nothing except that it will become much more expensive to hire them. Like everything else in Singapore.
Maria Janisa Murcia: Domestic work is also work, so why not include domestic workers under the employment act?
Alejandro Ruizdelacuesta: Balaji, your selfish and uneducated comments are not welcome. Better go and post them at some site for half-bred locals with lower-than-average IQ. I will answer your questions: hours of work will be regulated, labor disputes will be arbitrated, unfair dismissals will be challenged, and slavery will be a step closer to eradication. Hopefully salaries will go up, and hopefully less low-class people, to whom no one should have to obey, will be able to afford helpers and you and others like you will clean up after yourself. Is that clear now???
HOME: It is deeply disturbing that such an advanced country as Singapore, which boasts the highest GDP per capita in the world, continues to pay our more than 200,000 migrant domestic workers approximately $1 an hour for a 16-18 hour work day, and other migrant workers as little as $1.50 per hour."
The new labour tribunal is a good initiative. But once again, it excludes migrants, even if it is meant for those who earn salaries which are much higher than a typical low wage migrant worker. Arguments about equality aside, when we create conditions which make it easier to take advantage of migrants (in this case, limiting their access to justice) employers may be encouraged to hire them, a practice which will ultimately hurt Singaporean workers.
Some FDWs are just too demanding .... mislead others to think employers owe them a 24 hours break as off days.
Nomad: As a friend once said to me, we are the old timers of "shake-leg".com. Simply put, I am the few who had opted out of the corporate ladder years back after I left Singapore/Hong Kong to Oz, and now only have myself to account to, and my personal CFO of course. What you get to read here is perhaps a fragment of the dailies of my life, and flashes of "brillant intangible thoughts" that are somewhat miraculously translated into words.
Extracted from Nomad's blog.
3 ex-maids fined for "moonlighting", I just think it is pure over meddling...
This is when I think its "over-meddling".
True, general workers shouldnt be moonlighting in other firms or forced to work in multiple locations IF the person involved is reluctant (since forced or directed by employer means no additional income for the helper)....
HOWEVER if I am an domestic helper employer and IF it is what my helper desires to do on her off day, I RATHER have my domestic helper earning her keep on her off day at someone's household than be loitering on the streets. In many counts, I would thought it is more beneficial for my helper to have additional source of income from her skills, less headache and fear for me that the helper will be accquainted with undesirable influences out there or being "forced" to fritter away their time in the mall etc. Of course if the helper so choose not to work, it's her right as well.
Some of these helpers have a huge financial committment and some would prefer to do anything to reduce that debt in the shortest possible time. So in this sudden unnecessary interest by the authorities & meddling, i find it a lose-lose situation.
Plus, isnt Singapore crowded enough on weekends? How many more people u want out there on the streets? Additionally, how many more foreign workers the country want to let in as domestic helper, like for every household? Not everyone needs or wants a helper 24/7 or wants to be liable for someone else apart from the hours that she is working for them. Plus our local business supply of part time help is overpriced and low in supply... Not that I believe it is the case but for the sake of throwing it out there, is this some ploy to help NTUC promote their home helpers?
Before the govt tries to clamp down on illegal moonlighting, then please, try to provide free or discounted training for local citizens to perform domestic chores as part of their income, or support local SME to provide affordable services to replace the gap left by foreign helpers working beyond their employers.
This is what I hate about Singapore "by the book process" sometimes, always try to close the loophole without providing a viable alternative channel first. The problem is that these foreign workers cannot come work in Singapore as hourly rate part time helpers without a sponsor in the first place, so they couldnt be working as legal full time "hourly rate" workers in the first place. So care to tell me then what are the alternatives? Many including myself had tried the local help and frankly, they are just not as good, detailed and attentive as some of these part time domestic helpers, not to mention ALL the freaking restrictions like I only get to choose either certain hours package, with some even trying to CHARGE for EACH item ironed. So smarty pants, any solutions?
'Days off cost money', The New Paper, 13 Jun 2014
Six years ago, when her husband left for another woman, she was forced to stand on her own feet. Miss Yunita Sari, then 25, had just given birth to a son and had an ageing father to support. With experience as a maid back home, the Indonesian left her only child in the care of her father and became a foreign domestic worker. She worked in Malaysia and Jordan before coming to Singapore six months ago.
She has opted not to take a day off, so she can earn as much as possible. She does not mind working seven days a week. "I miss my son, but what to do? I need the money," said Miss Yunita, 31, who calls home only once every three months. She now earns $520 (about 4.9 million rupiah) monthly. This is a huge increase from her pay back home and about three times what she was earning in Malaysia and Jordan.
Another maid, Miss War War Aye from Myanmar asked to work on two of the four days off she is entitled to every month. The reason: She spends too much money when she takes four days off. She said that in 2008, when she was 23, she would spend $50 each time she met her cousin and a friend on her day off. Now that she limits herself to two days off, coupled with a higher salary of $480, Miss War saves at least $400 a month. This will help the 29-year-old put her two younger sisters through school -the initial reason for her coming here to work.
Having fewer days off does not mean she has less time to rest.
She said: "I still get enough rest because my ma'am lets me rest after I complete my chores." According to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers have to give their maids a weekly rest day, or compensation in lieu.
A Manpower Ministry survey showed that 63 per cent of the 2,000 maids they spoke to do not get a weekly rest day. In 2010 it was worse with the figure at 87 per cent. The maids surveyed had been working in Singapore for a year.
Maid agencies The New Paper spoke to said Indonesians and Myanmar nationals who are in Singapore for the first time are usually the ones who do not mind working on their rest days. Hiring terms state that Filipino maids must be given four days off a month, said Mr Jeffrey Tan of maid agency Innova Resource. He said most employers here would prefer their maids not take days off and are willing to pay extra for it.
Mr Gabriel Ee, the director of Island Maids, said: "Some employers expect their maids to look after the elderly or babies at home every day as part of their responsibility. "Other employers are afraid that if their maids go out to mix around, they will be led astray. Some have personally experienced this, while others hear such stories by word of mouth."
Maid agency bosses said that to make sure that all parties are happy, work requirements like days off are communicated clearly to both employer and maid.
In January last year, the Government made weekly rest days for foreign domestic workers mandatory under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. This move follows the Manpower Ministry's year-long review of the foreign domestic worker management framework. It found that Singapore was one of the few countries worldwide without provisions for weekly rest days. This law applies to foreign domestic workers whose work permits were renewed after Jan 1, 2013, or maids who were hired after this date.
The specific rest day can be mutually decided on. The worker can decide to forgo her rest day, but will get paid in return for it.
Employers of maids, don't forget day off, The Straits Times, 16 Apr 2014
Only about a third of newer maids here get their mandatory weekly day off, and both employers and maids are responsible for the poor record. Despite the requirement taking effect in January last year, some bosses here remain reluctant to comply, especially if they have had constant help at home, said employment agents.
They are supported, in some cases, by maids who prefer to be compensated instead of resting, because they want to earn more money. "Most employers get a maid not as a luxury, but because they need the service for their family, for example to take care of aged family members," said Ms Carene Chin, managing director of maid agency Homekeeper.
Mr Jack Khoo, owner of WorldAsia Employment Agency, said seven in 10 employers ask him whether they can not give a day off. "But when we tell them it's a rule, they'll comply." Some employers use the $5,000 security bond as an excuse, saying that if the maid goes out and misbehaves, they will lose the money, said Best Home Employment Agency owner Tay Khoon Beng. "But it's not a good reason, because certain aspects of the rules have been relaxed," he added.
The Manpower Ministry said in Parliament on Monday that, of 2,000 maids surveyed who had come to Singapore to work for the first time last year, 37 per cent were receiving weekly days off, and 61 per cent received at least one day off per month.
The low take-up may also be because maids themselves request to get extra cash instead of days off. This is especially so in their first year because they want to pay off the placement fee, agents said. "Most of them are very happy to get compensation in lieu and not go out at all, especially when they are still clearing their loan," said Madam Netty Chu, who owns Great Helpers. Still, some agents remain optimistic that things will get better, especially as basic salaries are on the rise. "There is a change - a lot of employers would rather not pay more, and would rather their maids go out," said Madam Chu.
Mr Tay said that the 37 per cent figure was a good one, as it has been only a year. "Maybe, by next year, it will shoot up," he added. As contracts last two years, all maids will be on new contracts that have to abide by the new rule by January.
Executive assistant Michelle Teo, for instance, said she gives her maid a day off every week. "After a few days of hard work, it's time for her to take a break and go out. I trust her and I don't ask her who she mixes with," she said.
On their days off, maids can enjoy new facilities like a clubhouse set up by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training. About 200 maids have signed up so far.
Voice of an activist, Clarissa Oon, SPH
Why resist a day off for maids? The Straits Times, 22 Dec 2013
This is the year that foreign maids are granted what globally is a basic labour right - a weekly rest day, which Singaporeans and other foreign workers already get under the Employment Act. Foreign maids hired from Jan 1 must be given a weekly day off or be compensated a day's wages instead.
Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that many employers prefer to compensate their maids rather than give them that rest day. Checks by The Straits Times with six maid agencies in January showed that 70 per cent of their 400 or so new customers employing maids were not likely to give them rest days at all until they had proven themselves to be trustworthy. Among maids with contracts signed before Jan 1, less than half have any days off, Mr John Gee of migrant worker organisation Transient Workers Count Too wrote in a newspaper commentary in July.
While the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) intends the rest day requirement to cover all maids by 2015, it would not amount to much if large numbers of employers take the get-out clause offered by compensation. (Winter: What's wrong with offering off-in-lieu compensation to Maids? If terms are harsh, FDW shouldn't accept job. Once accepted job, FDW shouldn't use this as the main excuse to job hop. Maid is dishonest, a liar, nobody forced her to board the plane!)
I employ a live-in Filipino maid and give her a weekly rest day even though her contract, signed last year, stipulates one day off a month. I find the resistance of many Singaporean employers towards giving rest days disturbing. The sticking point seems to be fear that the maid will get up to no good on her day off. The spectre of her absconding or getting pregnant is often raised, for which the employer could risk forfeiting all or part of a $5,000 security bond. (Winter: Writer, you forgot that the loss is not just security bond for a pregnant maid. You forgot to calculate the recruitment fee paid, training hours, repatriation fee, etc. Yes, we're calculative in your eyes. That's how a low-middle-income family manages the family finance. Not all employers are so rich and can spend money without seeing the breakdown)
Signed with the Government, it makes the employer responsible for her upkeep and good behaviour, feeding into a very calculating mindset on the part of employers in managing risks and extracting the most out of the maid. Perhaps in recognition of these sentiments, MOM has clarified on its website that if a maid becomes pregnant and loses her permit to work here, the employer who reports her will not lose the security deposit. (Winter: what about the losses, hassle to recruit again and inconveniences caused by a bad maid?)
This has not stopped bosses from being extremely reluctant to give rest days to a maid. Some do so only after she has worked for a year, when the placement fee of more than $2,000 has been paid off. This is what an employer pays to the agency for her to come to Singapore, which is deducted from her salary over a period of time, from several months to a year.
Another common view is that rest days are tied to the maid's performance. But just as one does not deduct or withhold a foreign worker's salary on account of poor performance - employers can be taken to court and fined in particularly egregious instances - a day off should be taken more seriously as a right, and not a reward. (Winter: most employers take the contract seriously, including off day. Maids don't. Philippines Embassy treats it like toilet paper because it has its own contract. Whatever stated in the local contract, were agreed before the relationship was established. Why the liar-maid has nothing to bear, no penalty?)
Then there is the misconception that granting a weekly rest day is equivalent to laissez-faire management of a maid. This need not be so; as with any modifications to a labour relationship, boundaries have to be negotiated and established.
Our maid does not do any chores on her rest day, but we require that she be back promptly at 7pm so she can get a good night's rest ahead of the next work week. Her day of rest is also not fixed, as there are occasions when I have to work on a Sunday. On those occasions, she rests on Saturday and will spend Sunday doing the chores and helping my husband care for our two young children.
Those who argue that their helpers do not need a weekly day off because they get adequate rest during the week need to reflect on the elastic and often laborious nature of caregiving and domestic work. It starts as early as 6am or 7am, when young children or the elderly wake up, and finishes late, depending on the time employers return home from work. In the Singapore context, this could be 10pm or 11pm.
Essentially, we have delegated the most menial, monotonous and back-breaking domestic tasks to maids - they help care for the very young, disabled, old and infirm, and even our dogs, and make it possible for families to have a better quality of life. (Winter: yes, the tasks or job is unglam but these were previously carried by me or other homemakers such as your mother, maybe. Why make a big fuss on these menial, monotonous and 'back-breaking' domestic tasks? By law, FDW suppose to get at least 8 hours daily rest. I'm sure a lot of modern FDWs get more than 8 hours personal time. You've never carry out chores yourself? Were you the mummy's jewel so everything goes to her or your maids? You sounded like the maid is god-send to take up dirty tasks so we owe our 'good quality life' to her. Is her service free? Is she paid timely?)
I do not see why a flexible arrangement for both employer and maid cannot be worked out. The rest day could be split into two half days. (Winter: Maids only want Sundays off and not short half days. Writer isn't aware that FDWs are not that easy to please/accommodating. When was the last time your shop for maid agencies and spoken to transfer maids, especially filipino?) Bosses afraid of their maids falling into bad company can set them up with religious groups or charities which run weekend activities or courses. (Winter: not all maids like you to manage her off day, know her whereabouts or tell her how to spend her time wisely)
While trust is key in the implementation of the rest day, it should not be a condition thereof. If one's relationship with a maid is not working out, the solution is to replace her or find other caregiving arrangements, not to withhold days off. There are now some 210,000 foreign maids here. One in five households employs them, according to the National Committee for UN Women (formerly Unifem), Singapore. Undeniably, there are issues of quality and training that need to be addressed separately from the day off.
There is also a need, as others have pointed out, to develop more day-care services for special needs and ailing family members, to ease the over-dependence on unskilled foreign labour. I have heard my share of horror stories of errant or abusive maids, but these have also taken on the status of urban myth which flourishes in the absence of rational, considered debate over the proper boundaries for domestic employer-employee relationships. Too many employers just fall back on entrenched prejudices and refuse to cut their helpers any slack for fear of being taken advantage of.
While some gains have been made in the work conditions of foreign maids, with MOM stepping up penalties for physical abuse and going on an education blitz to stop people from making their helpers clean high-rise window exteriors, the ministry should also study how many maids are actually getting a weekly day off. Failure to observe the rule only perpetuates an unhealthy, even racist - one law for them, another law for us - mindset. MOM should also work with employment agencies to persuade bosses of the benefits of such an arrangement. I do enjoy the family time we have on our maid's rest day, as I am sure she values the opportunity to hang out with friends.
Yes, managing a maid can be complicated precisely because she has all the complexities of a person and is not a machine. That is the trade-off we make for outsourcing family chores to a stranger from a foreign land at relatively low wages. With it comes responsibility for the well-being of someone's mother, sister or daughter. Whether we are living up to it, is something to think about.
Giving day off to maid was big mistake for me, The New Paper, Jun 2011
When I found out my maid got pregnant, the first thing I did was laugh. It was nervous laughter. We have five-month-old twin boys and even with full-time help, it was tough to cope. This maid worked for us for six months and we were reasonably happy with her.
It took almost five months to properly train her. This involved cooking, cleaning and the tough task of helping me with my twins. Slowly but surely, she gained confidence and became pretty good with the babies. She helped me feed and change their diapers and even helped to soothe them when they got cranky. So to reward her, I let her have a day off, even though she was not allowed any under the terms of her contract.
Apparently, the temptation was too great and she ended up getting pregnant about a month ago. She just wasn't smart enough to know that she had to use birth control. So after repatriating her and ending up with lighter pockets, my husband and I sat down to see where we went wrong.
That's the thing, as employers, we tried our best to do the right thing. We were trying to be humane by letting her have a day off when she asked for it. We had heard countless stories of how maids are overworked and don't get enough time to rest. Apparently, being kind was our biggest mistake.
When family members found out about our maid, they immediately said it was our fault. They said we shouldn't have let her go out or even let her go down for walks. But seriously, we already had two babies and we didn't want a third one. So, what are we going to do with the next maid? Well, we will not be as liberal with her as we were with the first one. But, we don't want to house her like a caged animal as well.
What's worse is we have to pick a new maid based on sparse information given to us on a piece of paper. Even if we interview her on the phone, it is tough to assess the kind of person she is. Another problem is the low education level of the maids. Because so many of them come from the rural areas in Indonesia, Philippines or Myanmar, a good number of them are only semi-literate and are unable to handle the pressures of living in a big city.
Again, it falls on employers to train and equip them with the skills to survive in a big city. That's a lot to ask of us employers who are already burdened with a levy to pay and increasing salaries of maids. And, frankly, I think one day off a week for maids is too much, given the number of things that could go wrong for us employers. Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob said we should consider legislation entitling maids to a day off every week. What she failed to consider is that the employers are liable to pay for the maid's mistakes, like when they get pregnant. Sure, as clarified by the Ministry of Manpower, employers will not lose the $5,000 security deposit if the maid gets pregnant. But employers still have to pay the cost of sending her back and there is the added cost of hiring a new maid.
We also had to fork out money for engaging part-time help while waiting for the new maid. Legal part-time cleaners do not come cheap - they charge about $16 per hour. In all, we had to fork out about $1,000 for this. But at the core, it is the hidden cost of coping with our boys before the new maid comes and also the time taken to train the new maid when she comes that is the most painful.
For now, I have my mother, mother-in-law, brother and cousin who have put their lives on hold to help us cope on a daily basis. On weekends, my husband and I mind the babies alone. Needless to say,we are always in a state of exhausted stupor. Because we are so tired, we have less time to do the things that really matter - like reading and playing with our boys. And when the new maid comes, I'll have to start at the beginning to get used to a new person in our household.
Even then, there is no guarantee that things will be better the second time around. I have had friends who have had numerous maids in one year. Some of their maids got pregnant, some stole from them and others just couldn't cope with the work. One friend of mine had to contend with her maid leaving her house every night and coming back at six in the morning. Apparently, this maid was going to Geylang every night and moonlighting as a prostitute.
So what can be done? I have an idea. Instead of having to hire a live-in full-time helper, can maid agencies come-up with a system where maids are bused every day into HDB estates? They can start work at 9am and end at 7pm. The agencies can then arrange for buses to take them back to their own hostels. Frankly, I don't even mind forking out the same amount of money for the maid on a monthly basis for this system.
Only if, the maid agents can play their parents - letting them have their days off when they need it and deal with their idiosyncrasies. And they, the maid agents should be liable if anything should go wrong (since, it's the agents who make money by bringing them here in the first place).
Perhaps this will motivate them to properly interview maids before deciding if they are suitable to do the work in the first place. The Ministry of Manpower probably has to police the maid agents to make sure they are not abusing the maids. This system might just be a win-win situation for maids and employers. The maids are happier as they won't get lonely as they can go back to their friends at the hostel.
The employers are happy as they are not liable to pay for their maids' mistakes and don't have to contend with a stranger sleeping in their house. The icing on the cake would be if the maid levies are removed and given to the maids instead. It would make them less likely to go into prostitution or any other illegal activities.
Maid to rest, The New Paper, Mar 2012
You would think that having a day off after working six days at the office makes complete sense. But not when the office is a home and the worker, a maid, it seems.
As of last year, more than 200,000 foreign maids work here. For many, a day off is just not usual. Ms Suharti Sudiarjo, 34, has been enjoying Sundays off every week for the last six years. When her friends first found out, they were surprised.
"When my friends meet me, they always say I have a good employer," said the maid, who has been living with a family in a cluster house in Ang Mo Kio since 2006. Her employer, housewife Eva Komarudin, 39, told The New Paper that it is "only humane" for maids to have a weekly day off. She said: "We don't want them to work every day. They already do so six days a week. And I'm sure Suharti will be a better worker if she herself is happy."
Not all employers agree, it seems. Some imagine maids will get into all kinds of mischief if given a day off. That's why a new legislature announced yesterday stipulates that a maid can have a rest day every week. The new weekly rest day requirement will apply to foreign domestic workers whose work permits are issued or renewed from Jan 1 next year.
Those who choose to work on their rest day will have to be compensated for this work. So what does Ms Suharti do on her day off? She said she attends sewing classes and classes for English, maths, science, accounting and social studies at a church in Orchard Road. In two years, she plans to take her O levels as a private candidate.
According to her employer, she has no formal educational qualifications. Ms Suharti, who is divorced and has a 15-year-old child in Indonesia, told TNP: "I want to learn something for the future. With an O-level certificate, I can get a better job when I get home." In the past, she used to hang out with her friends on weekends. "We would go window shopping and chat. I eventually got bored of it."
For Ms Eva, giving the maid off also gives her some private time with her family. She said: "We sometimes go out for family dinners on Saturdays and Sundays. There's no point in asking Suharti to stay at home alone."
TNP spoke to eight maids who were all happy with the announcement. Filipina Catherine Serias, 28, said she would like to go for a computer class and learn more on her rest day. Indonesian Ina Sukinah, in her 20s, wanted to explore Singapore and meet her friends. Another maid, Ms Siti Khotimah, 29, simply said: "I need rest."
The eight maids said the top five things they do on their days off are: Meeting friends, going shopping, singing at karaoke clubs, sending money home, watching a movie. While maid agencies and non-governmental groups welcome the move, maid employers were not so enthusiastic.
Said one, a 73-year-old retiree who wanted to be known onlyas Mr Tan: "My wife is bedridden. She has Parkinson's disease. I need someone to help bathe and feed her. That's why my maid cannot take any days off." He said he hasn't earned any income for the past 10 years and is upset he has to pay extra for not giving maids a day off. Project executive Lim G H, 40, said: "If owners have to reimburse maids for their days off, it'll be a burden to them. This means extra expenditure."
Non-governmental organisations Humanitarian Organisation for Migrant Economics (Home), Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI) have been lobbying for such a rest day for years. Home and TWC2 help migrant workers, while ACMI assists distressed foreigners. Said Home's founder and president, Mrs Bridget Lew: "The right to a day off is a worker's right. It's a shame that Singapore ignored this fundamental right until now." TWC2's immediate past president, Mr John Gee, concurred, saying the move was "long overdue". He said: "A rest day lets workers have a break from the environment at home. "It is also a chance for those with problems to seek help from friends and family."
Mr Gee and Ms Lew were concerned that some workers might be put under pressure to work on their rest days against their will.
Both maid and employer must agree if the rest day is taken or compensated through payment. Under the new law, employers are not supposed to ask their maids to forgo their rest day just by paying in lieu. Mr Gee said: "It is easy for new maids to be pressured to work as they themselves are in debt and their employers might stress the urgency of this work." To avoid this scenario, he recommended that maids be guaranteed at least two rest days - when they don't work - every month. Ms Lew also suggested that domestic workers who work on their days off should be paid more than usual. "If a normal worker works on his day off, he is paid double," she said. "Why should this be different for domestic workers?"
20 Aug - It is in MOM guideline to compensate maid based on daily salary. Certain Facebook maid is trying to create more unhappiness by stating to work on Sundays/off days/Public Holidays, maid should be paid overtime, which is double ie, at least $40 per day. Give FDW an inch, they want one feet. Fought for off days, now trying to ask for higher pay. They claimed they needed a weekly break. They are humans, need a good rest. Now, it seemed like money is what maids are eventually running after. Unable to rest well and mix with friends is fine. So if really paid 1.5 or 2.0 rate, are they going to perform well? Double well or just do 50% work? If I say most maid can give you 150% service, you want?
Mondays – 15% (too tired after a Sunday break)
Tuesdays – 35%
Wednesdays - 35%
Thursdays - 25%
Fridays - 20%
Saturdays - 15% ('battery' going flat, need a full Sunday to recharge)
Sundays – 0%
Total 150% for the whole week.
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There could be some really hardworking and sensible maids in Spore who made good use of their off days. Some really needed an income, thus, willing to learn, open her heart to receive training and did her best to become a good helper. They Skype, Facebook chat or telephone their family on a regular basis and don't mix with men. The day of rest gives her time to recharge by breathing outside, connect with her own kind, de-stress by talking about her problems, how to perform better, gain practical advice on how to cope with the Singapore family expectations and cross-cultural difficulties. A person with good character will stay clean and unpolluted. She'll learn how to protect herself from bad influence and not be easily lead astray. She values herself, think of her family's needs and know why she had to 离乡背井, totally alone in a foreign land. She knows or will find out what is right, what is wrong,willing to do a good job in a household that treated her fairly. If maid can log in to Facebook regularly, I'm sure she can extract beneficial information from the internet, read and refused to be wrongly influenced.
A sensible FDW will not be complacent and think of ways to manage a not-too-bad employer 惜福. Most important, she knows she is not a slave, employer doesn't own her, she chose to work in Spore and will respect her employer who had provided her live-in necessities. Neither of them owe each other a living, one is the provider and the other is a worker .... simple relationship!
Do try to understand, Singaporeans are busy people, work long hours too and having a costly live-in maid (S$1700/month is cheap??) is suppose to free their hands. Not all employers hired FDW to show-off our riches or be our companion. FDWs are paid to come to our house and lighten our load, not tie our hands and make our lives miserable.
After work, some employers had to tutor their children or spend some time to bond with the kids. They are tired after a whole week's work, both husband and wife need a break too but unfortunately, FDWs are more important, MOM gave you mandatory off days. I agree there are still many reluctant employers ... why? The MOM's policies are unfavourable to us. Who wants money disappearing from his/her pocket for faults not due to employer?
FDW's employers have been tasked to work harder, be superman and superwoman. The reason being, the kids are theirs, the house belongs to them, they enjoy family time (immediate family are living with them) so why they can't spare time to take charge... just 'one day' a week and free the maid?
FDW, by giving you a paid off day, I hope you can learn to be more appreciative, don't be self-indulgent and take things for granted. You had a good break so don't get home with a sour face (after comparing your friend's benefits or effected by unrealistic hearsay)and try to give employers a hard time. Please buy your own air ticket to go home, have some mercy, treat us like human with feelings, don't be too nasty to us. If Spore employers are treating you badly, go home and get your govt to provide you better employment. Go back to share weal and woe with your family. If you say your employer is not letting you go, I don't believe. Don't you know MOM is behind you, they are your protectors .... get what I mean? So what are we? Sg employers are nothing, just dirt in this land, certainly not as important as YOU! As long as you're telling the truth, not pretending you're suffering or ill-treated, you'll be protected.... MOM love to show they care about you.
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17 Apr - Giving maids off days is like giving them a higher pay and taking in more risks. Note: giving higher salary doesn't mean the maid quality has become better, the fact is FDWs' service quality have deteriorated if you compared with previous years. Due to higher salary offered, more unsuitable FDWs are flocking to Spore to give us problems. They flew to enjoy life, not really to work as a domestic maid (poor working mentality) and took full advantage of the loopholes created by MOM. Took full advantage of us, received a monthly salary yet still classified themselves as slaves, can you believe such logic?
FDW is more prone to get bad influence and waste her money outside. Can employers avoid and minimise our losses NO! MOM and those people fighting for human rights will not allowed. Even if employers compensate maids for no weekly off, these self righteous people can still hammer you. To them, you are BAD, you deprived your maid a chance to rest and mix around ... no reason accepted from employer.
FDWs chose to stay home, agreed for no off days in order to get higher salary (during phone or face interview) but most tend to get itchy and wished to go out after some persuading acts by neigbours or 'friends' they made while doing grocery shopping for employers or fetching the children, etc.
Employers are made to face more liabilities. If maid moonlights during off days eg work part time or prostitutes, the employer gets punished by MOM and loss money. Nobody will pity the Employer who has to find another FDW, waste money on agency fee and re-train the maid.
If maid gets pregnant or killed by lover, the employer gets punished by MOM and loss money again.
If maid envies others who had better benefits and starts to act naughty so that employer can release her for new employment, can you stop her? No, MOM and those people fighting for human rights will not allowed. If maid has completed her loan, her behaviour is really bad and you don't mind buying her a one way air ticket home ... do it! Kick her out of Spore, don't let rotten apples stay in Spore. You're helping your fellow countryman.
If you think the cost of airfare is expensive, think of the days she has to spend at her agency, $15 to $20 per day of no work and this additional costs ($20 x 14 days) does not include levy. Your liabilities for that FDW will only end when her work permit is terminated. As long as maid remains in Spore, be it housed in agency, embassy or HOME, you're still the FDW's legal guardian ie ATM machine! The fastest way to end your responsibility and security bond discharged is to get her on a plane and say good bye to that rotten apple!
It is not advisable to give maid any termination notice. Sounds cruel? Wait till she runs away and then you're faced with a bigger problem or a shit hole to fill, you'll blame yourself for being too kind and soft-hearted. You can pray hard that maid will appreciate you, will not come up with any dirty tricks nor take revenge during the notice period.... go ahead and be an angel. Nobody stopping you to try your luck, do a test of human cruelty.
I have no problem giving off days because I want my FDW to know that I can survive without her. My FDW has 33 hours off. From Sat, about 8pm to Mon, 5.30am. Her services are required only when I'm working. On maid's off day, I do not call or sms her. Told my maid to keep my things the way they should be, carry out chores and take care of my girl the way I wanted because I don't want any surprises or had to ring her during her off days to ask where my things are hiding. I don't want to employ a maid and end up the whole family has to change for her sake or rotate around her.
If I don't have a special needs child, I don't need to hire FDW and have a string labelled as MOM tied on my neck. I just need a nearby special needs daycare centre so that I can kick FDW out of my life. If I want to cook but lazy to wash the dishes, do a takeaway. No point insist I must have home cook food and make myself tied in the kitchen. If your hubby doesn't mind share the chores or washing, go ahead and cook. If employers can't lift your fingers to change diaper for your own kids or can't stand them circling around you, I've nothing to say. My girl has disability, unable to talk to me but I love her a lot, I don't mind taking care of her during FDW's off days.... this is part of positive thinking so that you won't hate those days when FDW is off, having fun outside with your neck strangled by MOM and domestic maid.
I enjoyed my girl's presence, she's my precious girl. That's why, when my ex-maid M didn't take good care of her, it really made me heartache to see bruises and my girl's resistance, I cannot pretend I didn't see and let my girl end up severely hurt. Everyday, I brought a heavy heart to work. Everyday, I worried what's going to happen next.
Anyway, no maid/human is perfect but FDW (any employee) can be a good helper if she's willing to change and become one. Have the right working attitude! Hope JA can become a good helper soon. My energy level is getting lower. No stamina to endure or fight with strong oppposition and a Spore govt who is so interested to protect maids and maid agencies. Our voices are simply too weak to be noticed! Non FDW's employers/self righteous people are not keen to understand my situation.
The reason why I want my FDW to go on weekly off days is clear .... I don't want my girl to be her trump card. I don't want my maid to think she knows my girl better than me, can take care of her better than her mother or we're totally helpless without a maid! She has to know she will not be upgraded as a family member. No maid will stay with you forever, no matter how nice you've treated her. Her real family is not here, she'll miss them, you cannot replace her family ties!
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9 Apr - Last weekend, I mentioned JA, my current FDW wanted to strike a deal with her agent to make me pay her $300 as salary and use five months to pay off her 2 months transfer fee (technically, FDW can only take off days after completing her loan), which I've paid on her behalf, in advance to agency. JA thought she could have a Tagalog conversation, get the agent to agree to her request … just give me the final conclusion – What I Must Do, cannot refuse because her agent said so! JA didn't tell me in advance, I wasn't mentally prepared to give her loan. Want weekly off day but no money and expects the employer to give her advance salary or allowance, this is illogical! To please JA, I gave in. Do I have a choice to reject? Can I afford to take risks, make her unhappy and give her an excuse to vent on my girl with special needs?
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18 Dec Winter - I'm very supportive of FDW going for weekly off days .... as long as MOM removes all liabilities and tweak unfair policies faced by me. I will be screaming with joy to see my FDW out of my sight if MOM waives FDW levy, remove $5000 security bond and repatriation clauses for household income that qualifies for FDWG. FDWs having fun outside, take weekly off days, have unusual relationship with males or waiting to be transferred to another employer, why employers such as me need to be responsible for her well-being and costs cum inconveniences incurred?
....updates on 22 May about FDW grant.
By the way, I qualify for FDWG (based on my household income) but to get the funds is not easy. I have to find a suitable course centre and a course that really will enrich my FDW so that she can understand and handle my girl. How can I sign her up for a course that is meant for an elderly.... ridiculous, right? I can't simply dump my maid for any course. For M, I waited 3 months for a suitable course but only managed to get cash back of one month .... because I kicked M out! JA, she's with me for 2 months but to get a relevant course, I must wait till Jun. No FDW grant for me, no back dated reimbursement. From M to JA, I am eligible to get 6 months reimbursement, ie $120 per month x 6. Not forgetting my previous filipino maid who wanted to job hop after her home leave so I didn't sign her for any course .... kissed good-bye to 3 months grant. Total FDW grant not entitled to was 8 months ($960).
Course dates are fixed by the training centres, very inconvenient but AIC/CEL/MOM won't be keen to make this Grant hassle-free to us... it means more money will be taken from govt... too easily. I was only given one month of grant instead of 8 months..... so disappointed.
I will be delighted to have a FDW who doesn't stay in my house. She can go have fun after work but don't bring me miseries when she step foot into my house to start her working days.
How come agencies have nothing to lose? Earning $500 to $1600 per transfer maid is such easy profit for agencies. Why MOM is so kind to maid agencies? Bad/unsuitable FDWs were recruited by maid agencies but why they are free from monetary losses?
Employers should also be protected - Shin Min Daily News, 26 March 2012
The government announced earlier on a weekly rest day for FDWs. On the same day, there was a murder case in Geylang involving a FDW and foreign worker. If it wasn’t a murder case but a case of a FDW getting pregnant, would the government expect employers to be responsible?
A weekly rest day is no issue but if FDWs turn irresponsible and become promiscuous, they could contract venereal diseases. Has the government thought of this? One of my friends discovered her FDW prostituting herself in Geylang during her rest day and immediately had her repatriated the next day. That FDW earned a free ticket home!
I agree that FDWs are human beings and need to rest. However, as most come from rural areas, they may not be able to resist temptations of the big city and engage in immoral affairs with foreign workers.
While the government legislates a mandatory rest day, it should also protect the interests of employers in ensuring that they do not lose their security deposit when their FDWs get into trouble. After all, it is only fair that they are responsible for their own actions. They are adults, not little girls!
Letters extracted from ST forum
IT IS true that maids should not be treated differently from other workers, and they need rest (‘Consider law to give maids a day off every week: Halimah’; Monday). But do they really need one weekly day off for that? Do they not rest in the course of their work every day?
My current maid has a day off once a month. Every time she comes back from her outings, she appears even more tired and listless, and needs to recuperate from her outing. When she is not around, both my husband and I, who are teachers, have to juggle with the care of our toddlers (two and three years old), besides catching up with whatever work we have not completed in the week.
Singaporeans work very long hours too and while we do not work officially on weekends, many of us catch up with work on weekday evenings and weekends.
My maid has more than enough time to rest daily, when the kids are napping or when my older one is in kindergarten. My maid is the one who goes to bed by nine every night and my husband and I are the ones who are still up way beyond nine to tuck in our children and catch up with school work.
Are maids really that overworked? The many maids congregating and chatting away happily at my condominium on weekdays present a different picture.
My previous maid met her boyfriend on her day off and even while we were at work. I have also heard of other maids doing part-time work on their days off.
The slew of social problems that will result from a weekly day off is unthinkable. And think of those taking care of old and disabled people. It will not be easy for someone else to take over their duties when they take their day off.
I urge the Government to consider carefully the many factors at play and the consequences of legislating a day off for maids.
Low Ai Choo (Madam)
More days off may not be in maids’ interest
I REFER to the proposal by Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, to make it mandatory to give maids a day off every week (‘Consider law to give maids a day off every week: Halimah’; Monday).
As much as employers like myself will like to give our maids a day off per week, we are concerned that it may actually not be in their interest. With four days off a month, they will incur more expenses. Many maids who have a day off a week end up not only sending less money home, and having little or no savings, but also incur debts by borrowing from other maids to cover expenses.
They may also become resentful that their pay is not able to pay for their entertainment on these days off.
Some maids may also work illegally on their days off. This puts them at risk of abuse from those who employ them illegally and also put their legal employers at risk with the law.
Sng Choon Kwee
Spare a thought for working mums
I REFER to Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob’s call for legislating a weekly day off for domestic helpers (‘Consider law to give maids a day off every week: Halimah’; Monday).
I urge Madam Halimah to look at the issue from the perspective of an ordinary, Singaporean working mother.
As a mother of a preschooler and an infant, having a domestic helper is probably the best solution for me as I would like to make full use of my hard-earned degree, remain in the competitive workforce and contribute to the nation’s economic growth while supporting the Government’s call to have more babies. Without a domestic helper to look after the children, one of the parents will have to stay at home.
Amid soaring inflation, rocketing housing prices and a dipping total fertility rate, is it appropriate to consider a weekly day off for domestic helpers at this juncture? If the Government would like to hear more babies cry, the answer is a clear no.
Moreover, does having a weekly day off ease the stress and overworking problems faced by domestic helpers? They may have to complete their chores before or after their day off. Essentially, they are left with less time to do the same chores. In this case, a weekly day off seems to worsen the problem.
Instead, inculcating a different mindset that looks at domestic helpers as part of the family may help. When the domestic helper is regarded as part of the family, she feels more comfortable and less likely to be stressed. Do we overwork our family members? No.
With many Singaporean households relying on domestic helpers to keep the house running, any change in the existing legislation is going to affect a large number of people.
It is not assumptive to conclude that a weekly day off for domestic helpers will have a negative impact on the fertility rate and the number of mothers in the workforce.
Fu Sze Sze (Madam)