More moves to better detect maid abuse, such has measuring their BMI
They will have enhanced medical checks, such as having their BMI measured
Foreign domestic workers will soon go through more checks during their six-monthly medical examinations - like measuring the body mass index (BMI) - to better detect cases of abuse.
From Aug 29, doctors will also have to check for signs of unexplained injuries, instead of screening only for pregnancy and infectious diseases.
The check-ups will also take place at clinics without employers being present to give foreign domestic workers a safe environment to ask for help, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday.
Home-based medical examinations will be disallowed.
Clinics will have to send all medical exam forms, regardless of test results, to MOM.
The ministry said recording the weight and height of foreign domestic workers and calculating their BMI will allow doctors to compare records and pick up warning signs, such as significant weight loss. The authorities will be able to follow up on signs of suspicious and unexplained injuries.
These enhancements were made after consultations with the Ministry of Health, doctors, employers and employment agencies, MOM said.
They come after a spate of high-profile cases of domestic workers being badly abused.
In April, housewife Gaiyathiri Murugayan was jailed for 30 years for starving and torturing her maid, Piang Ngaih Don, 24, to death. The Myanmar national weighed 24kg when she died on July 26, 2016, having lost 38 per cent of her body weight since she started working for the family on May 28, 2015.
In November last year, a woman was sentenced to 10 months and two weeks in jail for repeatedly abusing an Indonesian maid employed by her family. The maid fled by climbing down 15 storeys from a balcony.
MOM also addressed questions like whether the additional checks would lead to an increase in cost for employers.
Fee increases are expected to be minimal, the ministry said, adding that clinics should review and make their own commercial decisions in adjusting fees for these check-ups.
MOM noted the enhanced medical examinations will be complemented by other measures to support the well-being of migrant domestic workers.
In April, it announced that its officers would conduct random house visits to check on foreign domestic workers and their employers in their homes.
Last month, MOM said it would enforce measures such as having employment agencies check on domestic workers, interviewing new domestic workers twice in their first year of work and requiring employers to give their workers at least one rest day a month that cannot be compensated.
Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics research and advocacy manager Jaya Anil Kumar said the move was encouraging.
"We must also couple these measures with other more immediate resources for migrant domestic workers to report abusive situations, such as more frequent mandatory rest days and guaranteed access to mobile phones," she added.