Tough punishment will rein in errant maid employers

The housewife who was fined $46,000 for failing to provide safe working conditions for her Indonesian maids should serve as a wake-up call to employers of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) (Woman fined for making maids work using scaffold; Aug 9).

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has a set of rules for FDWs, including the type of work they are allowed to perform.

These are essentially household and domestic chores.

However, many employers blatantly violate these rules and get away with it, given the difficulty the MOM has in detecting such practices.

For instance, it is common for FDWs to work in homes other than that stated in the work permit.

Except for some FDWs who are brave enough to defend their rights, most are resigned to the opportunistic and exploitative actions of employers, who have a firm hold on them.

Hoping to eradicatethese malpractices by leaving it to the conscience of employers is wishful thinking. So is relying on the complaints of FDWs.

A possible solution is the imposition of heavy penalties on employers who are found guilty, so that they serve as a deterrent.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2018, with the headline 'Tough punishment will rein in errant maid employers'. Print Edition | Subscribe