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HOME’s response to ‘To Promote Domestic Worker’s Welfare Share Anecdotes Best Practices’

Dear Sir,

I refer to the letter, To Promote Domestic Worker’s Welfare, Share Anecdotes, Best Practices’.

We thank Mr Leonard Poh for his feedback. Our study (Home Sweet Home? Work, life and wellbeing of foreign domestic workers in Singapore) was conducted based on a sample of respondents stratified to reflect the major populations of migrant domestic workers in Singapore as indicated by published numbers. Statistical differences were tested using non-parametric and parametric techniques. Statistical relationships were also examined with correlation and regression analyses. Based on our calculations, we concluded that 670 respondents were sufficient to achieve statistical significance in our results.

HOME acknowledges that in the 10 years we have been campaigning for the rights of migrant domestic workers, there have been some improvements in their welfare and rights. However, we still have a long way to go in ensuring equal rights and adequate protections for them. Our survey has shown that 40% did not receive weekly days off and 51% had experienced some form of verbal abuse. Our respondents also worked an average of 13 hours a day with 10% found to sleep in the kitchen, living room or bomb shelter. More than half did not even have a copy of their contracts on them.

Our study also found that sufficient rest, having one’s own room to sleep in, adequate nutritional and medical attention, and having a stable social network are vital for positive mental health. This can only happen when employers respect their employee’s privacy and give them regular time off and rest days. However, domestic workers should not have to depend on the good will of employers to enjoy such basic rights. Therefore, the Ministry of Manpower should include them in the Employment Act, so that benefits such as sick leave, public holidays and limits on working hours, are not left up to employers to decide. If we will not accept the denial of such rights for employees in other occupations, why should domestic workers be discriminated against in this way?

Jolovan Wham (范国瀚)

Executive Director
Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) 情义之家