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Over the years, TWC2 has collected some figures relating to the issue of a weekly day off for domestic workers.
Sunday Times, 28/7/2002:
‘Most foreign maids happy working here’
Dawn Wong and Lee Hui Chieh
“More than half Filipinas interviewed had every Sunday off, and a handful, public holidays as well.
Again, this was in marked contrast to what the Indonesians get. Almost half of them were allowed to take a day off only once a month. Also, slightly more than a quarter of them had no day off at all, working even on festive occasions such as Hari Raya”
(Based on a survey of 100 workers)
Sunday Times, 28/12/2003:
‘Maid abuse not rampant here: Survey’
“Maids here work long hours. Most are up by 6am and finish work between 9pm and 11pm, although about seven in 10 are able to take breaks during the day.
Only half get days off, and usually only once a month.”
(Based on research carried out by Singapore Press Holdings’ research arm. Poll of 284 domestic workers carried out between November 24th and December 14th 2003)
“Problems Faced by Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore: Data and Facts”
A. Savitri Wisnuwardani, Alb. Bambang Buntoro, Mulyadi and Sri Palupi
The report listed ‘Ten Main Problems Faced by Migrant Domestic Workers in Employment’ in section 3.2. The first problem was ‘No holidays’, a complaint raised by 80 per cent of the workers interviewed.
The survey was based on interviews with 120 women who had been employed as domestic workers in Singapore.
(Working Forum for Justice of Migrant Domestic Workers (FOKER)- Working Team on Information and Documentation, Institute for Ecosoc Rights, 2005.)
Lianhe Zaobao, August 2, 2006: ‘When there is mutual communication and understanding with the employer, domestic workers can still get resting time without a day off’
Loo Li San and Zheng Li Rong
“The Feedback Unit has surveyed 526 foreign domestic workers to understand their working condition and their relationship with their employers. The results showed that 55% of domestic workers did not get a day off at all while 28% had one day off a month. Only a very small minority of domestic workers enjoyed definite time off every week. 7% had 2 days off a month and 6% had a weekly day off.
On the surface, some domestic workers have “no days off in a year”, but the reality is if they are able to communicate with their employers, even if they do not have a fixed day off, they still have time to take a good rest.”
(The Feedback Unit was a government body. It surveyed 526 Indonesian, Filipina and Indian domestic workers)
The MOM’s 2010 survey showed that slightly over half of all foreign domestic workers in Singapore already enjoy at least one day off a month.
(MOM reviewing call for weekly rest day for maids (21 Jun 2011)
Headline, Straits Times, June 25, 2011
Only 12% of maids in S’pore get a weekly day off: Survey
First Key Recommendation, Made to Work: Attitudes towards Granting Regular Days off to Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore’, The Singapore National Committee for the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, Transient Workers Count Too, 2011:
‘As an immediate first step, a weekly day off for domestic workers should be made mandatory in Singapore. To address the concern that a mandatory weekly day off could deny domestic workers the opportunity to earn extra through overtime work, we recommend legislating fair terms of compensation on par with the benchmarks made in the Employment Act for other workers. The compensation must be equivalent to a day’s wage should it be the choice of the domestic worker to work on the day off and it must be double her daily wage should the employer request the worker to work on the day off.’
TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our