$40,000 in salary withheld from maid

Foreign domestic worker Indah (not her real name) worked for her employer for nearly 10 years - during which more than $40,000 of her salary was withheld from her.

Her employer said Ms Indah was not allowed to hold on to any money, kept her passport and Work Permit, and gave her no rest days as well.

Not only were Ms Indah's appeals for home leave rejected by the same employer, but she also could not own a mobile phone and could not speak with her family for almost seven years.

Ms Indah's case is one of many examples of forced labour highlighted in a joint report released yesterday by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) and the Hong Kong-based group Liberty Shared.

Forced labour, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, refers to all work or service exacted from a person "under the menace of any penalty and for which (he/she) has not offered himself voluntarily".

Apart from working from 7am to 11pm daily and not being allowed to speak to strangers like other domestic workers in the neighbourhood, Ms Indah was never shown or given a copy of her employment contract.

Her salary was only $280 when she first arrived in Singapore. She sought help from Home eventually, and her employer paid her outstanding wages after an MOM mediation, though Home noted they were not publicly penalised. "It was deemed by MOM that the matter was successfully resolved once Indah's wages were received," said the report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline '$40,000 in salary withheld from maid'. Print Edition | Subscribe