More than one in three new maids last year received weekly rest days

A crowd mostly having picnics in their own groups opposite Lucky Plaza at Tong Building, on March 9, 2014. Just over a third of more than 2,000 maids who started working in Singapore last year received a weekly rest day, the Manpower Ministry (M
A crowd mostly having picnics in their own groups opposite Lucky Plaza at Tong Building, on March 9, 2014. Just over a third of more than 2,000 maids who started working in Singapore last year received a weekly rest day, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said on Monday, April 14, 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Just over a third of more than 2,000 maids who started working in Singapore last year received a weekly rest day, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said on Monday.

This is "encouraging" compared to the situation in 2010, when only 13 per cent of some 900 maids surveyed did so, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education Hawazi Daipi in Parliament.

The ministry also found that 61 per cent of the maids interviewed received at least one rest day per month last year, up from 53 per cent in the 2010 survey.

Mr Hawazi added that by Jan 1 next year, all maids will be on new employment contracts that will have to abide by the rest day requirement of one rest day per week or compensation in lieu.

MP Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah) and Nominated MP Eugene Tan asked how the "unequal" bargaining positions of maids and employers could be managed.

In response, Mr Hawazi said that "there are avenues for them to resolve their differences". For example, employers and maids can seek assistance from the employment agency that oversaw the rest day agreement, or from MOM.

Associate Professor Tan also said that while he was encouraged by the increase in the proportion of maids getting weekly rest days, "for what is supposed to be a mandatory rest day...the figure is actually quite low".

Mr Hawazi said that "if for some good reason the employer needs the maid to work on the agreed rest day, then they must work out either compensation or an alternative rest day".

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