Day-off for domestic workers in Singapore

Maybe you have heard or read recently that Singapore has decided to grant a mandatory day-off to domestic workers [see here]

But we still see or hear about domestic workers who don’t have day-offs…

So what is the law precisely? What are the rules nowadays?

A mandatory day-off: when?

This mandatory day off will be applicable from January 1st 2013. It is a weekly rest day. But this requirement will be effective only for new work permits ; it won’t be applicable to any work permit delivered or renewed before December 31st 2012.

Since work permits are delivered for a maximum of 2 years, it is only from January 1st, 2015 (another 2 years 1/2 to go!) that ALL domestic workers in Singapore will be granted a day-off.

A mandatory day-off: for all domestic workers?

A mandatory weekly off-day is indeed a major improvement warmly welcomed by advocacy groups defending the rights of migrant workers. But it may not be that great for some domestic workers…Up to now, the decision to have or not to have a day-off was submitted to a “mutual agreement” between the employer and the domestic helper. And the employer was allowed to deny to grant a day-off; when her employer said no to a regular day-off, the domestic helper had no way to defend herself.

With this new law about the mandatory weekly day-off, the “mutual agreement” will refer to the possibility of working on a day off…the day-off is off but if it’s worked because of a “mutual agreement”, then it will have to be compensated in the form of money. Clearly, it means that some domestic helpers will still be working on Sundays  while getting additional money on top of their salary for this extra work. And now the question is: what is better to be happy and efficient at work: more rest or more money?

A mandatory day-off: which day of the week?

It has never been said which day of the week the day off should be. Actually, most domestic helpers who have a day off have it on a Sunday. Sunday isthe day when they can meet their friends. It is the day when all courses and upgrading skill classes are held; the day when their country stores and banks are opened. It means that any other day of the week is useless if off: what to do on a Saturday when all her fellow friends are working, when there is no class, no community gathering?

Employers should think carefully wen chosing a day-off: Sunday first!

About helpagency

French expatriate in Singapore since 2005, dealing with FDWs issues since 2008, offering training for FDWs (Children Health Urgent Care course)
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