Maids

Forum: Inadequate, poor-quality food a frequent complaint

A foreign domestic helper preparing dinner in the kitchen on April 27, 2020.
A foreign domestic helper preparing dinner in the kitchen on April 27, 2020.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

-The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) agrees with the points raised in the letter "Maids: Some not being fed properly" (Nov 19).

Inadequate and/or poor-quality food is one of the most frequent complaints brought up by migrant domestic workers (MDWs) encountered by Home.

Many MDWs who feel that they are receiving insufficient or unsatisfactory food may feel shy about raising this matter with their employers, for fear of being scolded or asked to leave.

An MDW may also feel that she cannot help herself to the food available in the household without the employer's permission, particularly if an employer has expressed unhappiness at the amount of food she consumes, or when the primary source of her food is leftovers from the employers' meals.

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers are required to provide adequate food to their MDWs.

While the Manpower Ministry's website provides guidelines on the recommended amounts of food that an MDW should be given, these guidelines remain largely unenforceable.

Home has found that employers are taken to task for not providing adequate food only in extreme cases - when the MDW experiences severe weight loss or health issues as a result of not eating properly.

There should be more stringent punishment meted out to employers who do not provide sufficient and nutritious food to their MDWs.

Jaya Anil Kumar

Case Manager

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline 'Inadequate, poor-quality food a frequent complaint'. Print Edition | Subscribe