Compiled articles on migrant domestic worker off days during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

[CNA] The wrangling over rest days foreign domestic workers and their employers face in Phase 2

Published: June 2020

Migration scholar Anju Mary Paul expresses concern over Ministry of Manpower (MOM) safe re-opening guidelines, as these guidelines give employers leeway to impose harsh restrictions on their FDWs’ movements and freedom. Paul notes that some employers may forbid their MDW from having a rest day during the Covid-19 pandemic, although all MDWs in Singapore are entitled to a weekly rest day. These employers may argue that they do not trust their MDW to practice safe social distancing while outside the house, even as they have the freedom to go out whenever they want. Paul explains that these double standards can breed frustration and resentment among MDWs who may feel that they have to operate under a different set of rules from their employers.

(As mentioned in Paul's article, while Singapore's Employment Act stipulates that all workers must receive at least “one whole day” of rest in each week, the Act does not cover domestic workers. For more information on Singapore's 'Phase 2' re-opening guidelines, click here.)

[ST Forum] Why a Different Standard for Domestic Helpers?

Published: July 2020

An ST Forum writer argues that the MOM advisory that MDWs should seek their employers' consent before taking their entitled rest day on a weekday – while avoiding certain destinations – is patronising. Instead, the writer urges that MDWs should not need to ask for special permission to take a day off and they should be able to visit whatever destination they wish.

[TNP] Some maids still barred from going out on rest days by employers

Published: August 2020

This piece from The New Paper provides an update on Migrant Domestic Workers' (MDWs') abilities to go out even under Phase 2 of Singapore's re-opening plans – 5 of the 18 MDWs the paper spoke to said that their employers still do not let them go out. It provides some quotes from two employers who respect their employee’s needs to go out, though one restricts her to only Fridays instead of Sundays.

(For more information on Phase 2 guidelines, click here.)

[ST Forum] Restrict gatherings of maids to stop coronavirus spread

Published: March 2020

In this forum letter published in March 2020, a Straits Times Forum writer calls for restrictions on MDW gatherings.

[HOME] Response to ST Forum: Unfair to restrict gatherings of domestic workers

Published: March 2020

This statement from the Humanitarian Organization for Migrant Economics (HOME) responds to the above Straits Times Forum letter that called for restrictions on MDW gatherings. HOME noted that since there are no government regulations preventing gatherings similar to those which domestic workers take part in, it is unfair for employers to mandate or regulate how they choose to spend their rest days.

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