Starting off right with new domestic help

Foreign domestic workers at an agency at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.
Foreign domestic workers at an agency at Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.PHOTO: ST FILE

Employers are responsible for the upkeep and well-being of their foreign domestic workers (FDWs), providing them with sufficient food and rest, and paying for their medical and dental expenses.

Employers should also develop structure and routine as this would help a newly hired FDW to better adapt to the family.

During the initial stages, employers can explore writing a short, simple introduction of each family member for the FDW, and also check with her on her religious practices, dietary preferences, food allergies and even medication.

Ensuring others in the family are also aware and respect the FDW's religious and dietary preferences are the first steps to a good employer-employee relationship.

Similarly, if the FDW faces difficulties in her day-to-day work, she should be encouraged to seek advice from her employer.

It takes effort on both sides to communicate openly so that a healthy employer-employee relationship can be cultivated over time and abuse prevented.

FDWs who need advice on employment-related issues can call the 24-hour helpline of the Centre for Domestic Employees on 1800-2255-233 (1800-CALL-CDE).

If they face mistreatment, they can contact us, their immediate neighbours or their own support groups for help.

If need be, they can also call the police on 999, should they feel their personal safety and well-being are or will be affected.

Shamsul Kamar

Executive Director

Centre for Domestic Employees

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2019, with the headline 'Starting off right with new domestic help'. Print Edition | Subscribe