Mandatory day off each month part of measures to boost maid welfare
New measures also include enhanced health checks, interviews
Employers must give maids one compulsory day off each month that cannot be compensated with cash under new rules that will take effect by the end of next year.
The Manpower Ministry (MOM) yesterday announced a raft of new measures to boost the welfare and safety of maids.
For instance, new maids will be interviewed twice in their first year of work by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE), and undergo checks by employment agencies after their placement.
The checks will seek to ensure that maids and their employers are settling well into a working relationship, and officers will offer support if needed. This will be done by the end of this year.
To facilitate the interviews, MOM will set up three neighbourhood centres in partnership with CDE, with the first centre expected to open by the first quarter of next year.
Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang, in a Facebook post yesterday, said the compulsory medical examination for maids every six months will also be enhanced to pick up signs of abuse.
Doctors will need to record the maid's body mass index and check for "signs of suspicious and unexplained injuries".
They will also need to submit these records to MOM for follow-up if necessary.
The changes will be implemented from the third quarter of this year, with the compulsory rest day rule kicking in next year to give employers time to adjust to the changes.
Ms Gan said: "Domestic workers support many of our families by helping with the household chores and caregiving duties.
"All of us can play a part in building a culture of respect and care for our domestic workers."
In April, MOM began house visits to check on the living and working conditions of the maids. The target number of visits was about 200 homes a month.
A Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) spokesman said many maids who are victims of abuse do not have access to mobile phones.
She said: "We hope to see regulations, where domestic workers are guaranteed access to their mobile phones during meal times, rest times and after work hours, be implemented in due time."
The spokesman said Home hopes to see an increased frequency in mandatory rest days as well.
An 40-year-old Indonesian maid who wanted to be known only as Ms Sumini said she is pleased with the new measures. She said: "If maids have bad employers, this makes it easier for the police to step in and help them."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: GABRIELLE NG