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Today newspaper devoted a full page to our newly-released research report on weekly day off for domestic workers.
Of the 195 respondents surveyed by the non-governmental organisation from July 2013 to October last year, only 41 per cent said they had four rest days each month. Close to a quarter said they got either one or two days off per month, and one in 10 said they work every day of the month.
“If our sample is representative, it means that approximately 22,000 domestic workers in Singapore do not have a day off at all,” said TWC2.
Laws that kicked in in January 2013 dictate that FDWs get compensation in lieu of their weekly rest day. But TWC2 found that only over half, or 56 per cent, of FDWs were compensated accordingly. Even among those who received compensation, it was below the standards set under the Employment Act — double their daily wages. On average, these workers got S$17.50 for each rest day they did not enjoy.
The newspaper article also pointed out the research finding that it is those with low pay often have the worst leave arrangement.
“New workers and workers with lower incomes were particularly vulnerable to not getting rest days or compensation in lieu, and were more likely to be uncomfortable with their leave arrangements,” the NGO said.
The newspaper cited a parliamentary reply by MOM in April last year wherein the ministry said “its surveys showed an increasing proportion of FDWs receiving rest days.”
To close the gap between law and reality, TWC2 recommended that the Government step up checks on FDWs’ working conditions and name and shame those who flout the rules — similar to the effect of media reports on maid abuse cases. FDWs should also be included for coverage by the Employment Act, TWC2 urged, so that they are entitled to a 24-hour rest period each week and compensation for giving up their day of rest.
“Workers who do not get any days off are prone to social isolation and are cut off from friends,” the NGO said. “They are also particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
The article concluded by mentioning a March 2015 survey by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) which found about a quarter of maids suffering from poor mental health.
The Straits Times mentioned our survey report at the bottom of an article (12 June 2015) focussed on migrant worker meals.
The story, “Foreign workers given stale food: survey” highlighted that “[o]ver nine in 10 Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore are given unhygienic food to eat.” The research was conducted by Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (Care) — part of the National University of Singapore — who polled 500 workers.
At the bottom of the news story, the Straits Times wrote:
Separately, a survey of 195 maids by workers’ rights group, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), found that four in 10 of those who did not get a weekly day off did not receive payment in lieu. Some 20 respondents reported having no days off at all. The survey was conducted from July 2013 to October last year, after it became mandatory at the start of 2013 for employers to give maids one rest day a week or payment in lieu.
In its report, TWC2 made several recommendations to the Government, including stepping up random checks on employers to enforce the weekly day off legislation.
It also asked for maids to be given the same provisions as workers under the Employment Act so that maids are entitled to a full 24-hour rest period every week and to double their daily wage as compensation for working on their days off. The survey found that the average compensation maids received, if they did receive any, was $17.50, or around one day’s pay.
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