Mletiko, 21 Juni 2011
Pengunjung Mletiko yang baik,
Perubahan kondisi pasar tenaga kerja (tepatnya Pembantu Rumah Tangga atau sering pula disebut dengan PLRT–Penata Laksana Rumah Tangga) dan politik dunia tampaknya akan mempengaruhi kesejahteraan para PLRT Indonesia di Singapura. Usul untuk memberikan satu hari libur per minggu makin sering disampaikan, bahkan dimuat di koran utama, the Straits Times, yang sering dilihat sebagai pembawa suara pemerintah Singapura.
Terlampir tulisan di koran ini, edisi 21 Juni 2011. Selamat membaca.
One Rest Day A Week For Maids May Be Inevitable
Jamie Ee Wen Wei & Poon Chian Hui
For the Straits Times (Singapore), 21 June 2011
More maids asking for days off, agencies say;
few employers willing
GIVING maids a rest day every week may be inevitable if Singapore wants to attract them to work here, said maid agencies.
Already, they noted that more maids are asking for rest days, and many are leaving to work in other countries with such benefits.
The eight maid agencies were responding to comments two days ago by Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, on how Singapore should consider legislation making employers give their domestic helpers a rest day every week.
Her suggestion came after member states of the United Nations labour agency adopted last week a treaty that offers domestic workers a full day of rest every week, among other things.
The document was backed by countries such as the United States, as well as Indonesia and the Philippines. Singapore, Britain and Thailand were among 63 members to abstain from voting.
Singapore has no mandatory rest days for maids, although some employment agencies do push for such days.
Employers have to abide by the terms set out in the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, which states that they have to ensure their workers get adequate rest, as well as rest days as stated in the employment contract between them.
As an industry practice, maids who do not get at least one rest day a month are usually compensated with an additional $20 to $50 to their monthly salary.
Of the eight agencies interviewed by The Straits Times, six said half of their maids do get at least one rest day a month. Filipino maids, especially the more experienced ones, usually ask for at least one rest day a month. Indonesian maids generally do not make the same request, but this is gradually changing due to a supply crunch that had arisen because of competing demand from other countries.
Agencies say the wait for a new Filipino or Indonesian maid is between one and three months – up from about two weeks previously. Elsewhere, maids have mandatory rest days. In Hong Kong, maids get at least one day off a week, while in Taiwan, they get four days off a month.
Recently, Indonesia lifted a two-year ban on its domestic helpers working in Malaysia after the two countries inked an agreement in which Indonesian maids get one day off a week, among other benefits.
Rules enforced by the Philippine authorities last year also called for four days off a month for Filipinas working as maids overseas.
Employers in Singapore may need to bite the bullet now, or they may find it difficult to hire maids in the long run, said Best Home Employment Agency owner Tay Khoon Beng. ‘This is going to become the minimum terms and if Singapore is the last to implement this, it may become costlier for employers to hire maids in the future,’ he said.
With some adjustments, most families should be able to cope without a maid once a week, agencies said. But employers are not open to the idea yet, they noted.
Mr Edmund Pooh, director of Universal Employment Agency, said: ‘If we put ourselves in their shoes, we will see that it’s unacceptable not to have any rest days.’
Still, some pointed out that employers are slowly taking to the idea.
Mr Desmond Phoon, who owns A. Pratama Employment, said he sees more employers who are willing to offer rest days to their maids. His firm deals mostly with Indonesian maids.
He also has no problems convincing all his clients to grant at least a day off a month to the maids. About one in 10 of his clients will even increase the rest days to two days a month when they renew their maids’ contracts.
Ms Bridget Tan, president of migrant worker shelter Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said allowing maids rest days will ultimately benefit employers. The organisation gets about 60 runaway maids a month and a majority do not get any rest days, she said.
‘People need time to recover. When that happens, they are happier and more productive,’ Ms Tan said, suggesting that family members can split the chores among themselves on the maid’s rest days.
Employers interviewed said they recognised the need for maids to have rest days, but preferred if it was not made mandatory. Polytechnic lecturer Tan Teow Chye, 55, who gives his Indonesian maid a rest day every month, said: ‘Some employers have certain needs and may be able to give only one or two rest days to their maid. But if this is made law, they will have to comply no matter what.’