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Manpower Ministry tells agencies to treat maids with respect

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has sent an advisory to employment agencies (EAs) today (Jul 16) in the wake of recent media reports on the treatment of foreign domestic workers in Singapore.

Manpower Ministry tells agencies to treat maids with respect

Domestic maids undergo training at Homekeeper agency. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has sent an advisory to employment agencies (EAs) today (Jul 16) in the wake of recent media reports on the treatment of foreign domestic workers in Singapore.

In the advisory, the ministry cautioned agencies to ensure that all advertising collaterals “accord foreign domestic workers (FDWs) basic respect and human dignity”. MOM also reiterated that it is unacceptable for agencies to display FDWs in an “undesirable manner” which gives the impression that FDWs are “commodities to be ‘tested’ or traded”.

The advisory is signed by Ms Penny Elaine Yapp, Deputy Director of the Foreign Manpower Management Division and Deputy Commissioner for Employment Agencies at the Ministry of Manpower. CHANNEL NEWSASIA


The advisory is reproduced in full below:

“Dear Key Appointment Holders and EA Personnel,

We are concerned by incidences of insensitive advertising and inappropriate display of FDWs by EAs.

INSENSITIVE ADVERTISING BY EAS

We understand that advertisements indicating very low agency fees are sometimes used among FDW-placing EAs to attract prospective employers. However, these advertisements which emphasise cheap fees, promotional rates, and/or discounts inadvertently give the impression that the FDWs are being marketed as merchandise. EAs should ensure that all advertising collaterals accord FDWs basic respect and human dignity.

EAs should therefore refrain from all forms of public advertising (eg on shop fronts and websites) that casts FDWs in an undignified light. EAs’ advertisements should not make any mention of fees or liken FDWs to merchandise that can be purchased and replaced when found unsatisfactory. The Ministry considers such practices unacceptable. EAs can however continue to communicate the full schedule of their fees and policies to prospective clients upon their request.

INAPPROPRIATE DISPLAY OF FDWS

While we understand that the presence of FDWs at EAs’ premises is aimed at facilitating job matching between the FDWs and prospective employers, displaying FDWs in an undesirable manner (including having them sit outside EA premises) reinforces the impression that FDWs are commodities to be “tested” or traded is unacceptable to the Ministry.

The Ministry considers the practices listed above as potentially detrimental to FDWs, who are ultimately EAs’ clients. The Commissioner of Employment Agencies has grounds to take action against EAs with such practices under Section 11(1)(c) of the Employment Agencies Act which states that an EA should not act in a manner likely to be detrimental to the interests of its clients.

EAs should therefore cease the above unacceptable practices with immediate effect. The Ministry will take action against EAs which persist in such undesirable practices.

Please contact us at Tel: 6438 5122 or email: mom_fmmd [at] mom.gov.sg if you require any clarification.”

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