Tough time for maid after false complaint

Domestic worker Evangeline (not her real name) wanted a fresh start last year, after leaving an employer who physically and verbally abused her.

She obtained permission to find work from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and police, who are investigating the case. A prospective employer interviewed her and wanted to hire her on the spot.

But the employer later cancelled her plan. That was when Evangeline found out her former employer had lodged a complaint against her with MOM, alleging she did not know how to do her work properly, and was crazy and often talked to herself.

Prospective employers applying for a work permit for her are notified in MOM's online system that they can call her previous employer to hear the reference.

Evangeline said the employer did not express concern about her work when her contract was renewed twice earlier.

A second employer was keen to hire her even after hearing the feedback, but due to logistical issues did not have the time to write a letter to confirm knowledge about the reference and readiness to proceed, so that arrangement fell through as well.

She stopped searching for employment after that. "I'm scared of being rejected again," she said.

The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) appealed to MOM on her behalf, and the note was removed from the system seven months later. Within three weeks, Evangeline was hired.

Last year, out of 1,700 cases where feedback by employers was given on maids, MOM rejected three cases in which the maid had a substantiated complaint against her employer. Substantiated complaints are cases where the employer may have broken the law, said an MOM spokesman.

There was only one case where an employer provided positive feedback about the maid.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2017, with the headline 'Tough time for maid after false complaint'. Print Edition | Subscribe