Match KPIs for maids with rights, protections

A maid assisting an elderly man in Circuit Road.
A maid assisting an elderly man in Circuit Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan for his views (Maids should have KPIs too, Sept 17).

Everyone knows that foreign domestic workers are treated differently, in many ways: For one thing, no local worker can be completely isolated in a place of employment in the way many domestic workers still are.

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) would be very much in favour of domestic workers having obligations and entitlements that are comparable with those of other workers.

Any requirement that they should have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to fulfil should be matched by an assertion of rights and protections that are enjoyed by other workers, including a cap on working hours, weekly days off, freedom of communication, an ability to leave an employers' premises during time off, and a real possibility of leaving an employer whom they feel does not treat them properly - rights that, as Mr Loh states, "even the most lowly" of local workers have.

Perhaps those could be viewed as KPIs for employers and for Singapore as a society.

TWC2 believes that it is wrong for recruiters and unscrupulous agents to encourage would-be domestic workers to misrepresent their experience and training. Honesty is the best policy, but it would be encouraged by policies and practices that empower domestic workers to speak up.

This would apply in the following examples: If an agent wants to place a worker with a family whose requirements are such that the worker does not feel able to meet them, or when she feels dissatisfied with how she is treated or simply does not understand what an employer has asked her to do.

Instead, fear of being scolded or physically abused, fear of her services being terminated and being sent home, and fear of returning home destitute as a result of recruitment fees, encourage deceptive behaviour as a defence mechanism.

TWC2 hopes that domestic work in Singapore will come to be more highly valued, whether performed by migrant workers or locals, and that foreign domestic workers will indeed be treated according to the standards that we would wish for ourselves if our positions were exchanged.

Deborah Desloge Fordyce

President

Transient Workers Count Too

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'Match KPIs for maids with rights, protections'. Print Edition | Subscribe