The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (21 May) that migrant domestic workers should stay at home at all times – even during their off days – during the first phase of Singapore’s circuit breaker period that will begin to ease out progressively from 2 June onwards.
Singapore announced that it will be exiting its circuit breaker period, which was put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, on 1 June, and it will be done in three phases. Phase 1 of the re-opening will see students back to schools on a rotational basis, the reopening of certain businesses and services, as well as limited family visits.
During Phase 1, which is expected to last for a month, migrant domestic helpers “should stay at home”, including on their rest days, said MOM in an advisory sent to employers.
They are allowed to leave the house to run essential tasks and buy meals, but “should return home immediately thereafter”. This was “in line with the rest of the community”, the Ministry added.
MOM asserted that employers are “encouraged” to give the domestic workers a rest day at home every week, adding that during this rest day, the workers “should not be asked to work”. If the worker agrees to let go of her rest day, then she should be compensated, MOM noted.
However, if the workers need to leave the house on their rest days, then they should ask for their employers’ permission to go out of the house on a weekday when public spaces are less crowded, the Ministry explained.
Additionally, MOM also informed employers that these migrant domestic helps should limit their time outside, wear masks, and follow all the safe distancing measures implemented by the Government.
They should also not forget to inform their employers of their whereabouts, and download and use the Trace-Together contact tracing app that was introduced by the Government for easy contact tracing process.
“They should be no meeting up with friends or gathering in public spaces to minimise contact between different households,” MOM said.
It added, “MOM will continue to conduct inspections on the ground. (Foreign domestic workers) who do not cooperate risk being fined and their work passes revoked.”
If that’s not all, employers are also advised to introduce their helpers to e-remittance services as well as helpful online activities, especially those that are organised by the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST).
They are also asked to teach their domestic workers the latest guidelines and requirements, and educate them on maintaining personal hygiene like washing their hands frequently with soap.
“As we all adapt to the new normal, it is important to maintain open communication with your (foreign domestic worker) and provide them with the necessary support,” MOM stated.
After the Ministry of Health announced stricter measures to curb the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19, local authorities issued the first advisory to migrant domestic workers on 21 March, asking them to adhere to safe distancing habits on their rest days.