Mandatory weekly rest days for foreign maids


Mandatory weekly rest days for foreign maids - Channel NewsAsia
SINGAPORE: It will soon be mandatory for employers to give foreign domestic workers (FDWs) a weekly rest day or compensation in lieu.

To give employers time to adjust, the new law will kick in for FDW work permits issued or renewed from 1 January 2013. It will not affect existing maids until their permits are renewed after that date.

By 2015, all maids will be covered by the new legislation.

Employers who break the rules can be fined up to S$5,000 or spend six months in jail.

Currently, rest days and compensation are spelled out in a contract between the maid and the employer but the practice is not uniform.

Only about 10 per cent of maids here have weekly rest days. About half have at least one rest day a month.

Singapore is one of a handful of countries including Saudi Arabia, Thailand and South Korea which have not legislated rest days for maids.

In making the change, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the regulation is expected to enhance Singapore's attractiveness as a destination for quality and experienced maids.

Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin announced the change in Parliament on Monday.

There are currently some 200,000 maids in Singapore. They come from countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The rest day for maids can fall on any day. If a maid is asked to work on her day off, a replacement rest day must be given within a calendar month.

To provide flexibility to employers with elderly or young children who need constant care, or maids who prefer to work to earn more, both parties can discuss compensation in lieu of the rest day.

This has to be mutually agreed by both parties.

The formula to calculate the compensation amount is also spelled out. This will be the maid's monthly salary divided by 26 days, giving the maid a day's wage.

The issue of giving maids a regular rest day is a contentious one. Maids and civic groups say it is a matter of basic labour rights, but employers say enough rest is given on a daily basis.

"While most employers do ensure their FDWs have adequate rest on a daily basis, this is not the same as providing a weekly rest day for a proper emotional and mental break and rest," said Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin.

"Improving FDWs' well-being has a direct impact on the quality of care that their loved ones receive. We need to ask ourselves how should foreign domestic workers - who make a significant contribution to many households - be treated, how does this reflect upon us as a society," he added.

Mr Tan also addressed one big concern of employers. He stressed that employers' S$5,000 security bond will not be forfeited if the maid violates her own work permit conditions - for instance, if she moonlights on her day off, or if she gets pregnant.

Even in cases where the maid runs away, only half of the bond will be forfeited if the employer has tried to locate the maid.

Mr Tan said that this does not happen very often. Last year, only 22 security bonds were forfeited because of missing maids.

"This is not large, considering that we have over 200,000 FDWs in Singapore," he said.

The MOM is also reviewing employers' obligations for medical costs and the cost of sending maids home due to exceptional circumstances that employers have little or no control over.

Mr Tan also assured help for families who need constant care for elderly members. They can apply for a new S$120 monthly FDW grant announced recently by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget speech.

This grant is on top of the existing S$95 monthly levy concession enjoyed by households with elderly members above 65, young children under 12 years or members with disabilities.

The new grant, to be disbursed by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, is given to families with a per capita household income of up to S$2,200 and who employ a maid to look after a frail elderly member or one who suffers from dementia.


Employers with special needs ie children with disabilities - congenital not eligible for $120 subsidy yet had to face more constraints and unfairness. I don't mind give off days but how come need to fork out extra $80-120 per month? Shouldn't maids take lesser pay for wanting to rest?

If maid takes 4 off days, it means we are paying more and have 4 times more unfair obligations. Pay more means MOM will protect us? NO!! We continue pay levy every month without fail and fulfil employers' obligations 4 times more for medical costs and the cost of sending maids home due to exceptional circumstances - repatriation (eg runaway, steal, abuse our beloved ones, maid has dreadful disease or illness) that employers have no control over or at fault, totally unaware, usually fault of agency or maid herself.

What happened to employer's well-being, especially my case? Forced to hire a maid cos no special needs daycare centre in Sg for low IQ children & youths. Why make me rely on maid - my only choice if chose to work?

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Sometimes I really feel so down, wished there's a time machine to turn back time so that I can stop KK Hospital from making a big mistake.

I can't forget KKH stopped me from taking detailed tests during pregnancy yet didnt tell me I've no family history so they don't want to waste time doing so many tests, no specific route for them to follow or work on easily.

Their professionalism, ego mistake yet I'm struck for life. Abused our trust !!



This is a very unfair law toward employer.....
so so unfair!! :nah: if it's 1 rest day/mth, i tink it's still reasonable but 4 days/mth??!!!

Excuse me govnt.....we, MUMMIES...does not get this type of privilleges!!! We work in office 8hrs...go home..take care of kids ..7 days per week! Our shift is 12-16hrs/day...

Do you seriously think tat we rest 2 days on sat & sun???!! think again...the above applies to sat + sun!


quoted from channel news asia:

"Improving FDWs' well-being has a direct impact on the quality of care that their loved ones receive.

Are you sure???!!


I think the maids' salary will go up again.

Cos it's difficult to save with handphone expenses & extra expenses with 4 off-days per week on a salary of $450/month.

I wish MOM will do something for us taxpayers.

a) control the quality of maids directly
- maids with bad employment history (3 transfers within 6 months) should be sent back immediately & agents to refund full amount & pay air ticket since they have made an extra 2x3 month of transfer fees. These maids have obvious problems. STOP wasting tax-payers' money & time. They are un-trainable.

b) check the age of maids
- there are still so many 18-year-old maids coming to SG. Remove the sham rule or enforce it properly.

c) realize that some maids (not all) will steal when they dont't have enough to spend.

Can we deduct from their current pay since most contracts come with 1 off day?
Can we pay maids sub$400 with 4 off-days???

MOM officers, pls use your brains.

d) realize that maids are not well-educated. Some are very emotional. Most are unable to multi-task well. Some are basically teenagers. They can't handle home-sickness, work-life balance & relationships problems well.

How many bangladeshi & thai foreign workers in SG, compared to HK?

I live near a foreign workers' dorm. When my last maid left, I found a pack of cigarettes in my kitchen cabinet. She is 31 years old. I have a 3 year-old daughter.

I rather have the maids take 1-week block leave at govt or agents' dorm every now & then. They can run courses for them since they collect so much $ from us. I can take a good break & clean my house properly.

This new rule equals
a) another pay rise for the maids
b) massive round of maids changing employers
c) agents popping champagne bottles (more commission$$$)
d) less BABIES (just think about the hassles & cost)

How come SG reporters don't bring up these issues????
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Media only report maid abuse cases and those high class rich ppl talking abt hw to protect the maids. Nobody care abt the employer. I once hired a maid as my mum had cancer and need to go for frequent chemo therapy. We are forced to get maid as my mum is too weak and we have to work. We are also not entitled to subsidies, we do not have parent care leave, we have to keep our rice bowl to pay the expensive medical fees, who will pity us? Thank God my mum is ok now.