Singapore – With the recent incidents of foreign domestic helper abuse surfacing in the country, the Singapore government, via the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), had to release an “Employer’s Guide” on December 2018 which includes a reminder to provide FDWs with three meals a day.
According to MOM, “The guide aims to help you build a positive working relationship with your foreign domestic worker (FDW) and includes information on rest days, well-being, salary, and other matter.” What is deemed proper treatment of others under your supervision seems to be uncommon for some, specifically to those employers who view hired hands as salary workers and not a part of the household.
Last year, the media brought to light at least a few hundred cases of FDWs being undernourished during their employment period.
A previous article released by The Independent Singapore last December highlighted the complaints of FDWs regarding food and nutrition with the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) mentioning 40% of the 800 women housed in their shelter raising issues about the quality and the quantity of food that they received from their employers.
In another article by Channel NewsAsia, employers were reminded to leave behind the proper amount of food or cash if they were to take a vacation leaving the FDW at home.
The specific guidelines on adequate food provision stated by MOM are as follows:
Food provision, and the lack thereof is not the only concern that FDWs are mentioning in the different forums across social media and online.
To give an example, Ms. Maricar DS posted on March 3 at the Facebook group FDW in Singapore asking if it was allowed for her employer to keep her work permit among other concerns. She wrote:
“Thank you, ma’am, for accepting my request. I am new here in Singapore, I just want to know if employer is the one who keeps the work permit even it’s my off day. They are the one holding my work permit. They keep my ATM and they only give me on my off. When I buy things they also take the receipt and sign everything I buy. It’s my own money but all they recorded and they balance my money and the receipt. I can only use handphone once a month and only in my off day. Please, I need some advice about this matter.”
As per MOM, employers are not allowed to keep an FDW’s work permit.
Ms. Sol Lumido has provided a list of things to consider when hiring a foreign domestic helper.
Even more alarming are the cases of foreign domestic worker abuse that continue despite a number of employers being punished and convicted in court.
On February 23, employer Jenny Chan was sentenced with three assault charges for punching and causing bodily harm to her domestic helper leaving the latter with a broken nose and eye.
Less than two weeks before that, couple Linda Seah and Lim Toon Leng were sentenced to jail for abusing their helper in inhumane ways such as forcing her to pour hot water on herself or making her drink dirty water with detergent.
For more information on the laws revolving proper treatment of foreign domestic workers, follow the link to MOM’s employer guide.
More on FDW forced labour concerns: