Forum: Grocery supply better than food allowance for maids

A domestic helper assists an elderly woman to walk with an aid.
A domestic helper assists an elderly woman to walk with an aid.PHOTO: ST FILE

Some employers have been accused of starving their domestic helpers.

Some of them may be doing it knowingly, but the majority do it unintentionally.

In Singapore, many families eat out. Since they do not buy groceries for themselves, they often do not buy them for their helper too.

Instead, they give her a food allowance on top of her monthly salary so that she can buy food for herself.

I run a group called Feed The Helper, which distributes food items to helpers.

When some helpers tell us that they do not get food from their employers, the immediate thought is that the helpers are being starved.

But this is not always the case. Some helpers tell me that they get a food allowance, but they send this money, together with their salary, to their families back home.

I advise such helpers not to blame their employers for not feeding them, but to use the money to buy food items for themselves and look after their own health.

And I appeal to such employers to buy groceries for helpers instead of giving them food allowances.

I understand that employers may not have the time to go to supermarkets or markets, but many such retailers are now on online shopping platforms and will deliver items to the doorstep.

Thahira Begum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Grocery supply better than food allowance for maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe