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     Community Issues - Compulsory day off for maids

     Compulsory day off for maids



Excerpt of article by Arlina Arshad in The Straits Times of 25 Oct 2005 (1)

"...From January, it will be compulsory for the 500-plus maid agencies here accredited by CaseTrust and the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS) to include a clause in their employment contracts stipulating time off for maids...

"Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore, said maid agencies that do not honour the clause may not be accredited the next time round.

"There are between 140,000 and 150,000 maids here, mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India..."


Excerpt of article by Arlina Arshad in The Straits Times of 26 Oct 2005 (H3)

"...maid agencies said that without legislation, it will be difficult to get employers to give time off, since many will prefer to pay compensation...

"AEAS president Angland Seah assured concerned employers that the contracts will allow flexibility for households. 'Under the new standard contract, it is up to the employers to specify the number of rest days to be given per month,' he said, adding that the changes will not affect employers with existing contracts..."


Excerpt of letter by Bridget Lew (Ms), Founder-President, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics in the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 27 Oct 2005 (H7)

"...Regrettably, there are many employers who continue to view days off for maids as a privilege, rather than a right. Fears that maids would be led 'astray' on their days off reek of paternalism and should not be an excuse to confine a maid to the four walls of a house.

"Employers have to realise that a well-rested worker will be more productive and more motivated to work..."


Excerpt of letter by Murali Sharma in the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 27 Oct 2005 (H7)

"...The law does not punish recalcitrant employers. The only thing compulsory is that members of the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore have to include a clause to the effect that maids be given a day off each month. Those who do not will be penalised...

"It is a pity that after decades of employing maids, affluent Singaporeans treat their maids as less-equal beings, not deserving of free time...


Excerpt of article by Lydia Lim in the The Straits Times of 28 Oct 2005 (37)

"..I was struck by the comparison one Filipino maid drew between the treatment she received here and in Ireland, where she now works.

"She told The New Paper: 'Here I am treated like a real person. In Singapore, I was smaller than an ant.

"In Singapore, the children scream at me when they just want a glass of water. Here, my employer serves me at the dinner table. She would ask me, 'Coffee or tea for you?'...

"There is no point passing a law to mandate days off for foreign maids when most of society do not yet recognise that this is the decent thing to do.

"What you will be left with is a situation in which employers find ways and means to get around the law and maids don't dare complain because they fear losing their jobs..."