Tan Chuan-Jin paying lip service to rights for foreign domestic workers?


The Diplomat, 5 Aug 2013
Since January 1, 2013, those joining Singapore’s army of more than 200,000 foreign domestic workers, employed in about one in five households, saw a new clause in their contracts, giving them the right to one day off a week. Seven months on, however, progress seems uneven and spotty. According to Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a Singaporean non-government organization specializing in migrant worker issues that has interviewed domestic workers at popular recreational hangouts and Sunday courses, there has been no significant increase in the numbers of foreign domestic workers taking days off.
Another report, titled Made to Work, released by three non-government organizations in 2011, stated that only about a third of foreign domestic workers have at least one day off a week. Additionally, in a normal month, about half have at least a day (usually a Sunday or a public holiday) off. These statistics remain a concern, combined with the live-in aspect of domestic work and the often long working hours of domestic workers, usually between 14 to 16 hours a day.
Although the Day Off policy was referred to as a “basic labour right” by Minister of State for Manpower, Tan Chuan-Jin, the legislation has aroused much public discomfort. In an attempt to compromise, the Ministry of Manpower included a clause to allow for the employer to negotiate with the domestic worker and mutually agree on compensation in-lieu of rest days. Full story
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