Foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and their employers have been advised to work out arrangements for rest days to minimise time spent outside the home in the light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The joint advisory was issued by the Ministry of Manpower, Centre for Domestic Employees, and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) yesterday after the Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 40 local cases of the virus on Saturday.
The confirmed cases include a 44-year-old Indonesian woman who contracted the virus from her employer, a 28-year-old Singapore resident who worked at healthcare products store Yong Thai Hang in Cavan Road.
According to the advisory, employers and FDWs were advised to maintain open communication and discuss alternatives for rest days due to the virus outbreak.
The advisory said households who have young children, the elderly or those with illnesses or special needs at home, may be concerned with the risk of transmission should their FDWs become infected while out on their rest day.
The advisory called upon employers and FDW to come to a mutual agreement for rest day arrangements during this period. While helpers rest at home to minimise time spent outside, they should not be assigned work, the advisory said.
Employers must provide compensation to those who agree to forgo rest days during this time.
The advisory also suggested personal hygiene and care precautions to protect households during this time.
Employers were advised to initiate temperature screening for members in the household and to look out for respiratory symptoms.
In case a helper falls sick, employers were advised to give her adequate time to rest and recover before resuming her work.
FDWs who continue to go out on their rest days were advised to avoid crowded places, large gatherings and avoid close contact with people with flu-like symptoms.
Ms Jaya Anil Kumar, case manager at Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, told The Straits Times it has come across a few cases where employers have barred their maids from taking their rest days.
Mr Ethan Guo, general manager of Transient Workers Count Too, said there were employers who trusted their maids to take precautionary measures when outside, while those caring for young children were asked to stay home.
Ms Jaya said: "Many domestic workers use their days off to send money home or to tend to other errands which they are unable to do during their work days.