Singapore – Compassion and empathy towards foreign domestic workers (FDWs) was once again highlighted on social media, with employers urging others to let their FDWs go out during their rest days or pay them for working on their day off.
A straitstimes.com article on Sunday (June 21) focusing on the plight of FDWs and the need for them to have rest days got the online community discussing the importance of empathy among employers in treating their FDWs humanely and not like workhorses.
It was mentioned in the article that some domestic helpers shared their experiences of having to work on their days off without getting paid. Being able to escape such instances was a reason why they preferred to go out on their rest days.
Numerous domestic helpers confirmed in the comments that they had to wake up early on their day off to finish their daily task and prepare the family’s lunch. Myrna Bartolome Tacata added she also had to go back home early to cook dinner. “Ask yourself first why you have off days too from your office work or any work. We have feelings too and experience stress and tiredness from the job,” said Rosita Madrid. She explained that it is a need to go out and have some time for themselves.
Park SungHwan shared his opinion, as someone who came from South Korea where FDWs were rare, saying that they are human beings with families back home. “Don’t forget: domestic helpers are daughters of someone or mothers of kids,” he said.
It is understandably difficult for people to go out and spend time with friends, especially during a pandemic, said Nicholas Ong. “Employers must not ask them to do anything on their off days ah,” he proposed. If they do stay indoors on their rest days and are asked to work, many were in agreement that they get paid. Ang Teck Leng placed things into perspective by saying, “Employers of the domestic helpers, you are also an employee of a company where you work. How do you feel when your superiors tasked you with jobs during your rest day without overtime payment or other forms of benefits?”
Zhi Tong Tan suggested for FDWs to have a platform to voice out their concerns. “Since we have so many forms created (check-in place, temperature, getting seeds from NEA), why not we create a form like this for them to report?” Darius Low had a more definitive suggestion: Fine employers S$300 for not giving rest days to their domestic helpers.
Domestic helpers who do get employed by people who treat them as family consider themselves lucky, like Lovely Joy Balidiong, who is grateful for her employer.