48% in S'pore say maids should be paid less than $600: poll

Don't let employers hold on to maids' salaries: Centre for Domestic Employees
Yahoo News Singapore file photo

SINGAPORE — About half of Singaporeans polled think that foreign domestic workers (FDWs) should be paid less than $600 a month, according to a survey by UK-based research firm YouGov.

The remaining half (52 per cent) think FDWs should be paid more than $600 a month, the findings released on Tuesday (12 November) by YouGov show. The findings are based on the responses of some 1,060 Singaporeans.

There is no minimum wage for FDWs in Singapore unlike in certain countries. The Philippines - one of the biggest source of FDWs - requires its maids working overseas to be paid at least $570 a month.

Singapore is one of the largest destination countries for FDWs in Southeast Asia.

About one in six Singaporean households, or 17 per cent, currently employ an FDW. Among high income households, or those earning more than $15,000 a month, the proportion is three in 10 (32 per cent).

A majority of the FDWs in Singapore hail from Indonesia (44 per cent), followed by the Philippines (26 per cent), Myanmar (11 per cent) and Malaysia (7 per cent).

The remainder 12 (per cent) are from various countries.

Quality of life for FDWs


Meanwhile, more than half (53 per cent) of those surveyed say the quality of life for maids in Singapore is average, while slightly over a third (35 per cent) describe it as good. The remainder (12 per cent) describe it as poor.

Those who currently employ a helper are more likely to describe it as good than those who do not (59 per cent vs 30 per cent).

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, FDWs are entitled to one rest day a week. 68 per cent of respondents agree that this is adequate, while 16 per cent find this inadequate. The remaining one in six (16 per cent) think one rest day a week is more than sufficient.

Those that employ a domestic helper are more likely to find one rest a day week more than sufficient than those who do not (28 per cent vs 14 per cent).

Overall, more than half (55 per cent) agree that Singapore has sufficient laws in place to protect the rights of domestic helpers.

One in seven (14 per cent) have personally witnessed abuse of a domestic helper, while four in five (79 per cent) have heard of instances of abuse. Over half (56 per cent) agree that more could be done to improve the quality of lives of domestic helpers.

Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov Omnibus, said, “It appears that most (Singaporeans) are content with the current rights and quality of life for domestic helpers. What is interesting is how views vary between employers and non-employers of domestic helpers, with the latter thinking they deserve more time off.”

In response to media queries about the survey, HOME case manager Jaya Anil Kumar said, "Domestic work is usually considered 'informal' work and may be undervalued. More work needs to be done to change this perception. When mindsets shift, salaries will increase accordingly."

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