SINGAPORE – From December, maid agencies will have to conduct checks on maids who are newly hired to help ensure their well-being.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced in a statement on Thursday (Oct 28) that agencies will have to conduct at least one check on a maid as well as her employer within the first three months of her starting work, either through a phone call or by visiting the home in person.
Since April, MOM-appointed officers have conducted visits to randomly selected homes and this latest move will add to the measures to ensure the welfare of maids. MOM said maid agencies played a key role as intermediaries between a foreign domestic worker and their employer.
During the check, agencies will have to speak to both the maid and her employer to see that she is settling in well and that an employer’s expectations are being met.
A set of guidelines developed by MOM and the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) states that employers and their maids must each be given privacy when speaking to the agency and that checks are not to be conducted over text messages.
MOM said agencies should help mediate any issues raised by a maid or employer during these checks. They are also advised to report any issues with employment or well-being to the ministry.
If there are signs of ill-treatment or abuse, agencies should inform the police.
They must also keep a record of the check, which may be audited by MOM.
Before a maid is hired, agencies must also inform employers she is to undergo a mandatory interview with the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE), a non-governmental organisation set up by National Trades Union Congress, within six months of starting work.
In August, MOM announced that maids would undergo more thorough medical checks in order to better detect signs of abuse.
Employers are not allowed to be present when their maid is visiting a clinic for their six-month medical check to allow maids a safe environment to ask for help.
Doctors will also have to measure the worker’s body-mass index, to ensure she is not underweight, and to check for signs of unexplained injuries.
The string of new measures were announced after several high-profile cases of maids being abused by their employers over the past 12 months.
In April, housewife Gaiyathiri Murugayan was jailed 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’ jail for repeatedly abusing an Indonesian maid employed by her family. The maid fled by climbing down 15 storeys from a balcony.Internet Explorer Channel Network