24 3 / 2012
Singapore has decreed that maids must be given at least one day per week off. This did not go down well with Thng Tien Guan, who wrote an aggrieved letter to the editor of the Straits Times:
I READ with disbelief that the Government has decided that all maids will get a weekly day off from next year…
It might seem like a fair and simple decision, but have the policymakers considered the unintended consequences? …
- Hiring a maid: Families will find it harder to employ maids as most will want their days off. While it may be argued that some maids prefer to be paid in lieu of a day off, this is usually true only in the first six months, when they are still paying off their loans through their agencies. Once the loan is settled, most maids will insist on their days off. And they are likely to quit if they do not get their way.
Should this happen every six months, it would be exasperating as it is hard to train maids to take care of toddlers or the elderly.
- Impact on the maids: The problem is not whether maids will use their days off to run away. Rather, the exponential increase in days off may lead them to squander their hard-earned pay instead of saving it to help finance a better life when they return home. The higher risk of promiscuity, extramarital affairs and unintended pregnancies are also possible consequences.
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