Friday, June 24, 2011

Maid in Singapore

Back in 2006, a friend of mine told me a very annoying experience his British friend had during an Fatherhood Orientation Course. Here father-to-be's were asked a question by their instructor: How many of you will give a day off to your maid? He naturally(!) raised hand without thinking and soon realized that in that group of 20 something men, he was the only one raising his hand. No hand was raised when the question was repeated as "twice a month". Second hand next to him went up only when instructor asked the question as "OK what about once a month?"

You may think that there is no excuse to not give a day off to a maid per week (and I agree that). Even if she is looking after a sick and old person. And what is very practical in Hong Kong and Taiwan (both of these countries have a day of per week for maids) should not be impractical in Singapore. But still, only 50 percent of maid employers give their maids a day of per month and according to The Straits Times article, only 12 per cent give their maids weekly day off.

Many employers in Singapore simply imprison their maids without any day off or communication with the outside world. And many think if they give a day off to their maids, they will go and find a bad company:

<<"The slew of social problems that will result from a weekly day off is unthinkable," said one woman in a letter to Singapore's Straits Times. Her defense of employers who essentially quarantine maids indoors might be satirical genius. But it's probably not.

"Do they not rest in the course of their work every day? … Are maids really that overworked? The many maids congregating and chatting away happily at my condominium on weekdays present a different picture."

Worse yet, she writes, "my previous maid met her boyfriend on her day off and even while we were at work."

A social life? The horror.>> Source : One day off for maids? Too much for Singapore

Although there are always bad apples to abuse their employer's goodwill, these people cannot be shown as an excuse to imprison a large number of woman in houses:

"If a domestic worker becomes pregnant or falls into bad company, an employer is at liberty to sack her" said Ms Noorashikin Abdul Rahman (TWC2 vice-president). "Denying a worker a legitimate right because of possible future misdeeds is not just right". Source : The Straits Times

Many employers may not even give a day off per month but please note that majority of the Singapore households do not employ a maid at all. The number of households here with a maid are 20 percent of the total households:

"As of last year, there were about 201,000 maids working in Singapore. This works out to about one in six families here having a maid." Source : Consider law to give maids a day off every week: Halimah

Currently, Singapore is debating whether giving a day off per week should be mandatory by law, but market forces are already making their adjustments toward that point. Horrific stories of imprisoned maids and worse conditions compared to Hong Kong and Taiwan are making their ways deep into Philippines and Indonesia. This already made Singapore the last choice for maids and it has become difficult to find a maid, let alone find a good one in Singapore. Soon, so less will come to Singapore that without law, employers of these maids will need to offer better terms to get a maid anyway.

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