Forum: Unfair to restrict gatherings of domestic workers

A crowd mostly having picnics in their own groups opposite Lucky Plaza at Tong Building on March 9, 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

We refer to Mr Alan Chin's letter (Restrict gatherings of maids to stop coronavirus spread, March 5).

Since the onset of the coronavirus situation in Singapore, two domestic workers have contracted the virus.

Both cases were linked to their employers, who had contracted the virus as well.

It is unfair to target domestic workers and unnecessary to restrict their gatherings in public places at this point in time.

Domestic workers spend long hours working in their employers' houses during the week, often alone.

They use their rest days to mingle with people in their own community, spend time outdoors and run personal errands.

In the absence of government regulations preventing gatherings similar to those which domestic workers take part in, it would be unfair to mandate or regulate how they choose to spend their rest days.

To mitigate the risk of their domestic workers contracting the virus, employers can advise them to follow recommended hygiene practices and to inform the employers and go to a doctor immediately when they are feeling unwell.

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics has encountered domestic workers who have been denied the right to leave their employers' houses for their weekly rest day.

The Ministry of Manpower has stated that if domestic workers do not leave their employers' houses to take their weekly rest days, they should not be made to work.

Domestic workers should also be appropriately compensated if they work on their rest days.

Jaya Anil Kumar

Case Manager

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2020, with the headline Forum: Unfair to restrict gatherings of domestic workers. Subscribe