- The Straits Times
Domestic helpers are commonly seen working in Singapore households, but how much do their employers think their work is worth?
A recent study by market research company YouGov published on Monday (Nov 11) found that 48 per cent of Singaporeans think maids should be paid less than S$600 (US$441) a month.
While Singaporean law does not set a minimum wage for domestic helpers, source countries may require their workers to be paid a minimum amount. For instance, the Philippines government requires its domestic workers in Singapore to be paid at least S$570 every month. For Indonesian maids, the minimum fee is S$550.
One day of rest is enough, most Singaporeans say
Based on a survey of 1,060 Singaporeans, YouGov also found that the majority of Singaporeans (68 per cent) believe that one rest day a week is adequate for domestic helpers.
According to Singapore’s Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, domestic helpers are entitled to one rest day a week.
However, 16 per cent of respondents found just one day of rest to be inadequate, and the remaining felt that it was “more than sufficient”.
The study also found that employers of domestic helpers are more likely than those who do not hire helpers to find that one rest day a week is more than sufficient (28 per cent vs. 14 per cent).
More than half of the respondents described domestic helpers’ quality of life as “average”, and only one in three people would describe it as “good”. The remaining 12 per cent described the quality of life of helpers as “poor”.
Employers of domestic helpers are also more likely than non-employers to describe the maids’ quality of life as “good” (59 per cent vs. 30 per cent).
1 in 7 have witnessed helpers being abused
Additionally, 56 per cent of Singaporeans agree that more can be done to improve the quality of lives of domestic helpers. This number jumps to 81 per cent among respondents who have witnessed domestic helper abuse.
According to the survey, one in seven Singaporeans has witnessed abuse of a domestic helper, and four in five have heard about instances of abuse.
Half of the respondents think Singapore has sufficient laws to protect domestic helper rights, while 31 per cent are undecided, and the remaining think that current laws are insufficient.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), there were approximately 250,000 foreign domestic helpers in Singapore as of June.
YouGov said in its report that one in six Singaporean households now hires domestic helpers. Among high income households – defined as earning more than S$15,000 a month – the number jumps to three in 10.
When broken down by nationality, 44 per cent of domestic helpers in Singapore are Indonesian, followed by the Philippines (26 per cent), Myanmar (11 per cent), and Malaysia (seven per cent), YouGov said. Another 12 per cent are made up of various other nationalities.
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