Various avenues where maids can seek help

The fact that there is still a steady flow of foreign domestic workers to our shores despite the pay scale of such workers in Singapore not matching up to those in Hong Kong and Taiwan is an indication that most employers here treat their workers fairly and the country has an environment with adequate protection for our foreign domestic workers ("Relationship between employers, maids a symbiotic one" by Ms Shirley Ng Chiou Peng; last Wednesday).

While it can be assumed that just a small proportion of abuse cases surface into the limelight, there must be avenues for foreign domestic workers to find help when needed.

It could be for instances as minor as living conditions or meal arrangements, to more severe scenarios of physical or mental abuse.

In Singapore, domestic workers have access to a wide range of social support and assistance from non-governmental organisations, such as the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast), providing hotlines or helplines with avenues for recourse or remedies.

Employment agencies, being the first contact point, can also help to ensure that the foreign domestic workers, especially the new arrivals, are made aware of the different channels where they can seek help when the need arises.

At Fast, we provide free legal counselling and mediation services to help understand the aggrieved parties' situations and, where necessary, to mediate between the domestic worker and employer on issues relating to the former's right to proper work arrangements, remuneration and treatment.

Where breaches are evident, Fast ensures that the authorities are alerted and remedial action taken to support the aggrieved party.

More than that, Fast has a clubhouse where foreign domestic workers can participate in activities specially catered for their well-being in the company of their fellow workers.

With such social support services available to domestic workers in Singapore, the only challenge is to ensure that those in need know where and how to access the services.

Seah Seng Choon

President Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'Various avenues where maids can seek help'. Print Edition | Subscribe