Measures to help in managing maids

I refer to the letters by Ms Lim Wan Keng ("Tighter screening of maids needed"), Ms Shamim Moledina ("What does medical insurance cover?"; both published last Thursday) and Ms Ada Chan Siew Foen ("Employers have role to play in maids' health"; Forum Online, last Thursday).

In determining the types of health tests to be made mandatory for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and the frequency with which the tests should be administered, there is a need to balance health concerns against the costs and inconvenience to employers.

To strike this balance, FDWs have to undergo basic pre-employment medical examinations before they start work in Singapore.

These include checks for conditions like heart and neurological disorders, infectious diseases, general mental health and physical fitness.

In addition, all FDWs have to undergo mandatory six-monthly medical checks for infectious conditions such as syphilis and tuberculosis, as well as a pregnancy test.

We acknowledge that some employers may find these basic tests inadequate for their needs.

We urge such employers to voluntarily send their FDWs for other optional medical checks, such as for hepatitis, which are widely available, as they deem necessary.

They may wish to consult their family doctor on the types of tests needed to address their specific concerns and the frequency that the tests should be administered.

In a similar vein, in determining the minimum insurance coverage that employers should purchase, a balance also needs to be struck.

Currently, employers are required to buy medical insurance for their FDW, with a minimum cover of $15,000 for inpatient care and day surgery.

If employers wish to limit their risk exposure, they are encouraged to buy coverage for more than this minimum sum.

Employers may also send the FDW home to continue treatment in her home country once the FDW's condition has stabilised and she is deemed medically fit to travel.

FDWs convicted of violating Singapore's laws are debarred from working in Singapore.

In addition, the Ministry of Manpower maintains a channel for employers to provide feedback on their former FDWs.

Employment agencies are required to convey to prospective employers of the FDW any such feedback.

This is to enable the prospective employer to make an informed decision on whether to hire the FDW.

More information on managing FDWs is available at mom.gov.sg

Alvin Lim
Divisional Director
Workplace Policy and Strategy Division
Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Measures to help in managing maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe