Update: Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has pointed out that there were various inaccuracies in Jolovan Wham’s post, and has shared the following post to this effect:
Here in Singapore, domestic helpers are an integral component of the lives of many families. They look after our kids, cook, clean, run errands – many of us would find it hard to run our households without these extra pair of helping hands that our helpers provide.
Given this, it’s only right that our helpers are treated fairly – a comfortable area to sleep in, adequate rest and days off, and sufficient food and drink being basics.
While the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) has clearly defined guidelines as to how employers should treat their helpers, a recent Facebook post by Jolovan Wham leaves us wondering if the owners of certain maid agencies know anything at all about treating helpers as fellow human beings.
Jolovan Wham is a migrant rights activist in Singapore. Last Saturday, he uploaded a photo showing a group of women sleeping on mats on the floor. In the background are kitchen appliances.
Allegedly, these are domestic helpers waiting for employment within a certain employment agency (not named by Wham).
The photo was taken secretly, says Wham in the post, by a woman there who sent it to him and then had to hide her phone (because phones are banned).
The post says:
“This employment agency charges $15 a day while the domestic workers wait to be deployed to their employers. According to the worker who sent it to me, they had to sleep in the kitchen and were only given rice to eat. They were also barred from using mobile phones. She had to take this photograph secretly and hide her phone.”
Below is the full Facebook post:
Maid agency basics
If you are on the lookout for a domestic helper and you want to go through a maid agency, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Stick to only licensed maid agencies. No matter how cheap the fees of the unlicensed ones are, they are not worth the trouble. You can check out this online tool provided by MoM for information on maid agencies, including their service quality and ranking and also if they have any demerit points.
- Once you choose an agency, ask for a proper written contract. All terms and conditions must be completely understood and agreed upon before signing anything.
- Share the needs of your family with the agency so they can best match a helper with these requirements.
For more on maid agencies in Singapore, please click this link.
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