SINGAPORE: A foreign domestic helper took to social media asking if her day off should be just eight hours or the entire day.

Her post to a support group for domestic helpers and employers alike garnered over 50 reactions and more than 100 comments. A top contributor in the group wrote: “Standard, as per MOM, is minimum 8 hours. It’s open for negotiation. There’s no rule that says, day off is 24 hours. If u want longer that 8 hours or u want 24 hours off day, negotiate with employer before accepting the job offer. Not accept the job then complain after.

Another netizen shared: “I have called MOM to enquire about this in the past and they did mention 8 hours minimum. Some families have a lot of caregiving needs and cannot afford for the maid to go 24 hrs away. They can also split one off day into two half days. It really depends on the family’s needs. If your family asked you to do chores on your off day, it’s not wrong, as long as you have 8 hours rest off. However, I prefer to allow my helper to rest whole day but she still demands to cook and clean. I literally have to push her out of the kitchen. We are very close to each other, she’s like my big sister”.

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Yet another netizen commented similarly: “I think it’s a healthy mix of the number of hours and not taking advantage of each other. Just like the employer needs to be aware of not making the helper work 24th hours, the helper needs to be aware that one cannot be out gallivanting 24 hours as the following day is work day and there needs to be exchange of information- instructions etc between the two. It needs to be a healthy balance”.

According to the Manpower Ministry, “From 1 January 2023, all employers must provide their migrant domestic workers (MDWs) at least one rest day a month that cannot be compensated away2.  This is part of the measures announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) last year to allow MDWs to rest and recharge from work, as well as form networks of support outside the household. MOM has also developed a guide to support employers and MDWs in initiating early conversations on the rest day arrangements, and to help employers plan for alternative arrangements for the household, if required.

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Rest day arrangements must be mutually agreed upon

MDWs and employers should come to a mutual agreement on the rest day arrangements. Arrangements for the monthly rest day can be implemented flexibly to suit the needs of both employer and MDW. For example:

  1. The rest day can be taken as one full day or over two half-days. It can also be taken on any day of the week.
  2. The MDW may choose to spend her rest day at home.
  3. The rest day can be deferred by up to one calendar month. This means that, should both parties agree to defer the rest day in that month, the MDW should take her rest day by the end of the subsequent month.”

Read related: Employer: Maid initially 1 hour late from day off, now 3 hours late

An employer took to social media asking what the acceptable practice was when it came to a helper’s day off. In an anonymous post to a support group on social media for domestic helpers and employers alike, the employer wrote that she had a new maid of 6 weeks. She explained that she gave her maid a weekly day off, as well as one Sunday a month.

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The woman also wrote that she paid her maid’s salary in advance because the helper had no money. “However she never keeps to our deal. Always late. Last time was 3 hours late. Now 1 hour. It is getting on my nerves”, the employer wrote. She asked netizens in the comments section for advice on the matter. /TISG