Ensuring Clearer Standards for Wellbeing of Domestic Workers in Employment of Foreign Manpower Act

Parliamentary Question, 5 August 2019


Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Manpower whether the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act will be amended to ensure that there are clearer standards on the well-being of foreign domestic workers, namely (i) stipulated mandatory rest times (ii) setting out minimum amounts and quantity of food to be provided by employers and (iii) setting out minimum standards for foreign domestic workers’ accommodation including that for shelter, amenities, ventilation, safety and privacy.

Mrs Josephine Teo: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) stipulates provisions under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) that safeguard the well-being and employment conditions of foreign domestic workers (FDWs). It requires employers to provide adequate food and rest, as well as proper accommodation with sufficient space and privacy for their FDWs.

Employers of FDWs receive clear guidelines on what constitute adequate food and acceptable accommodation, and these parameters are reflected on the MOM website. For instance, employers must provide FDWs with three meals a day and examples of what the daily food intake could be for breakfast, lunch and dinner are detailed on the MOM website. Employers are also responsible for providing proper lodging that accords adequate shelter, basic amenities, sufficient ventilation, space and privacy that safeguard their FDWs’ safety and modesty. FDWs and employers are informed of these guidelines at the Settling-In Programme and Employer Orientation Programme respectively.

As each household would have its own unique and varied needs for domestic work, it is not practical to stipulate fixed hours of rest and work for FDWs. For instance, a household with very young children or frail seniors may require greater attention from the FDW at different times of the day, while a household with teens and older adults may not. We encourage employers and FDWs to maintain open communication and work out arrangements that are agreeable to both parties.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.