Errant parties, employment agencies taken to task

We refer to recent letters on the experience of hiring foreign domestic workers (FDWs) (Protect interests of maid employers too, by Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan; and Apply standard that covers harassment at work to maids, by Mrs Padmini Kesavapany, both published on May 14; Send strong message to errant maid agencies, by Ms Teng Soo Ling; and Understand plight of domestic workers, by Mr Kalpana Balaji, both published on May 18).

The vast majority of employers and their FDWs strive to do right by each other and generally have good relationships.

To educate both FDWs and employers of their rights and responsibilities, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has in place a mandatory Settling-in Programme for first-time FDWs and an Employers' Orientation Programme for first-time employers.

Such programmes cover a variety of interest areas, such as building a better employment relationship, stress management and various channels to seek help.

MOM takes complaints of well-being of FDWs seriously.

Allegations of physical or sexual abuse are referred to the police for investigation.

Under the Penal Code, those convicted of committing offences against FDWs face stiff penalties and will be debarred from hiring FDWs.

This debarment also applies to all members of the household.

Similarly, FDWs will be taken to task when they commit offences such as making false allegations to the authorities. In addition, they would be banned from working here.

The FDW cited by Mrs Kesavapany had sought MOM in April to transfer to a new employer.

She had clarified with the MOM investigation officer that she had not been abused and had no well-being issues.

She also did not want to lodge a complaint against her employer or her employer's spouse.

There is also a rigorous framework in place to regulate employment agencies (EAs) and raise the standard of recruitment practices.

MOM requires EAs to provide prospective employers with accurate biodata of FDWs, to ensure transparency in the recruitment process.

The ministry is investigating the case cited by Mr Loh on the alleged false allegation by his former FDW and alleged malpractices by the EA. We will not hesitate to take errant parties to task.

Jeanette Har

Director, Well-Being

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Errant parties, employment agencies taken to task'. Print Edition | Subscribe