SINGAPORE - Prescribing a fixed number of hours of uninterrupted rest for maids on their rest days will impose rigidity on them and their employers, as households have different needs.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) does not intend to define the number of hours of uninterrupted rest for migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in a given rest day, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Wednesday (March 2).
"Different households have different arrangements with their MDWs based on their respective needs," she added. "What is more important is that the employer and the MDW maintain open communication on their respective needs and come to mutual agreement on the rest day arrangement."
Last July, MOM announced plans for employers to give their maids at least one compulsory rest day each month that cannot be compensated with cash.
"This is to provide MDWs with opportunities to rest and recharge from work, and to form a network of support outside the household," Ms Gan explained.
The new rest day policy will be implemented towards the end of the year to "give existing employers and their MDWs time to adjust", she added.
Currently, domestic workers are entitled to a weekly rest day. They may work on their rest day, but must be compensated with at least a day's salary or be allowed to reschedule their rest day within the same month.
Ms Gan was responding to a question from Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) on whether MOM intends to define the mandatory rest day for domestic workers as a full 24-hour period of uninterrupted rest.
Employers and maids who need help in reaching an agreement on the rest day arrangement can call the ministry's MDW helpline, said Ms Gan.
They can also seek assistance from a neutral third party, such as their employment agencies, or consider utilising the free dispute resolution services offered by the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast).
Ms Gan said MOM will be communicating the requirements to employment agencies and the employers. She called on domestic workers, as well as their support network and neighbours, to report errant practices to her ministry or associations such as CDE and Fast, so that assistance can be given promptly.
MOM also conducts regular checks to make sure that MDWs are getting along well with their employers and that they are getting enough rest, she added.