Forum: Legalising moonlighting by maids would worsen employers' woes

Moonlighting by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) has become more prevalent, and some people have suggested legalising it (Make it legal for maids to work part-time, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi, Sept 24).

I sympathise with FDWs' needs. At the same time, I feel compelled to highlight possible unintended consequences of legalising moonlighting.

Many employers have shared with their peers their challenges in getting support at home. When domestic helpers fail to fulfil their obligations, employers can do little. For example, when helpers defy instructions, rebuff their employers when corrected or are "too busy" to do legitimate tasks, employers often have no recourse for help.

Should the employers express dissatisfaction, the helper might ask to change employers, and the employers end up with no help at all.

Among employers, the advice is often to "close one eye" as long as no crime is committed.

Legalising moonlighting will aggravate the struggles of employers. Given that a helper can earn $100 for her services in a day, she is likely to view full-time work as an obstacle to the more lucrative moonlighting. Basic responsibilities then become a "favour" to the employers.

Rather than legalise moonlighting, the situation should be addressed.

I know that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has decisively addressed such cases of moonlighting whenever they are brought to its attention.

Employers often struggle quietly with FDW issues as they juggle family and work commitments.

I appeal to MOM to consult employers should it revisit laws on moonlighting, since changes would have an impact on lives and the economy.

Lim Teck Yeow

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.