Today, there are 250,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore. And according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), only one in three of them tend to complete their two-year contracts.
Early termination can certainly be costly and disruptive, not only for the employers but for the domestic worker as well.
To help more foreign domestic workers and employers fulfil their contracts, MOM introduced a series of new measures on 6 October 2019.
These measures include giving free dispute resolution services, making sure there’s better matching of employers and domestic workers by providing more information, and ensuring employment agencies take greater ownership of matching employers with suitable foreign domestic workers.
The measures will be rolled out progressively in the next two years to allow time for employers, employment agencies and domestic workers to adjust.
Free Dispute Resolution
Starting October 2019, the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) will provide free dispute resolution services.
The two NGOs will work to de-escalate and resolve conflict and help restore relationships between affected parties.
With this, MOM said that it hopes employers will consider approaching CDE or FAST to resolve issues instead of terminating contracts.
Providing More Information
From October 2020, employers and employment agencies will get access to more information on foreign domestic workers’ previous work experience, in addition to their length of employment in Singapore.
Information released will include the domestic workers’ previous job scopes such as elder care, or infant care, previous residence type and household size, and her reason for leaving the last employment.
Doing so will hopefully help employers select domestic workers who can be a better match for their household needs.
In 2018, there were 250 employers who changed five or more domestic workers within a year.
When the measure kicks in, employment agencies will be able to access the profiles of domestic workers hired by such employers in the previous 12 months. This, according to the ministry, will help the agencies to better advise employers who may need additional help when selecting their domestic worker.
Ensuring Employment Agencies Take Greater Ownership
The last measure will start from October 2021.
MOM will notify employment agencies when domestic workers they helped place leave Singapore after completing their contracts.
According to MOM, these domestic workers would have likely adjusted well in Singapore and had good working relationships with their previous employers. Hence, the ministry said that it believes bringing them back would benefit other employers.
Additionally, all employment agencies will be required to provide an option for a refund of at least 50 per cent of the service fee charged to employers when a domestic workers’ employment ends within the first six months.
MOM said that doing so will ensure employment agencies take greater ownership in finding suitable and better matches for employers.
According to MOM, all the new measures were developed based on feedback from employers, employment agencies, and NGOs.
In October 2018, MOM consulted 44 stakeholders to gather views and ideas on how to better support employers in hiring domestic workers.