Things that S'pore employers shouldn't ask their helpers to do

Must know.

| Zi Shan Kow | Sponsored | March 01, 2023, 05:57 PM

In May 2022, a 46-year-old employer of a migrant domestic worker (MDW) was sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment and fined S$10,400 after her MDW lost all five fingers on her right hand when using an electric mincer.

Turns out, the MDW had been illegally deployed to work for the employer’s business.

If you are a Singaporean employer of an MDW, you might or might not be aware that there are some things you cannot ask your helper to do as they are illegal.

If you are wondering what these things are, read on to better understand the regulations.

What is illegal deployment?

MDWs working in Singapore can only perform domestic chores at their employer’s residential address, as declared to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Employers are not allowed to deploy their MDWs to:

  • Work at another address other than the one declared to MOM
  • Work at the employer’s business, shop, or stall
  • Work for the employer’s home-based business

We got MOM to answer some frequently asked questions by employers about what their helpers can or cannot do.

Why am I not allowed to deploy my MDW to carry out tasks elsewhere for me when I pay her salary?

Illegal deployment puts the MDW at risk of work-related injuries and being exploited for non-domestic labour.

She may also end up doing more work which is detrimental to her well-being.

Can I ask my MDW to clean my parent’s house or my other residential property once a week or once a month?

No, MDW employers are not allowed to deploy their MDW to clean other properties, even if the properties are owned by the employer.

Mary (not her real name) was deployed to clean her employer's landed property, condominium and art gallery.

For illegally deploying Mary to addresses other than the one declared to MOM, her employer was fined S$7,500 and debarred from hiring an MDW.

I feel more secure if my child or parent is with a relative when I am away or busy. Can I ask my MDW to take care of them while they are at my relative’s place?

This is possible, but MOM must be notified before proceeding with the arrangement.

Before doing so, employers need to:

  • Obtain their helper's written agreement to take care of the employer’s child or parent at the relative’s house
  • Ensure that the helper does not perform the full load of housework in both households
  • Provide accommodation that meets the requirements if the helper needs to stay overnight

You can notify MOM by submitting an online form.

Can my MDW help with simple chores at my food stall or shop? She would be doing the same work she does at home, such as preparing food or packing items.

No, your MDW is not allowed to work for your business as it could be detrimental to her well-being.

Maria was employed by Lin (not their real names) as an MDW.

In addition to her domestic duties, Maria was asked to work at the food stall of her employer’s wife, where she had to prepare food, perform cashier duties and serve customers.

For failing to ensure that Maria only performed domestic chores at the designated household, Lin was fined S$8,000 while his wife was also fined $8,000 for illegally employing Maria.

They were debarred from employing an MDW.

I have a home-based business. Can my MDW help me since it’s within our home?

No, MDWs are not allowed to perform non-domestic duties even if it is performed at their employer's residence.

This prevents the MDW from being over-worked and protects her well-being.

What if my MDW and I mutually agree for her to be compensated for these extra tasks?

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, MDWs can only perform domestic tasks at the residential address declared to MOM.

Employers must ensure that their deployment of the MDWs do not contravene the law.

What actions will be taken upon me if I illegally deploy my MDW?

MOM takes a stern view of illegal deployment. If convicted of the offence, employers may face financial penalties of up to S$10,000 for each charge and be debarred from employing an MDW.

In the past three years, about 400 errant employers had been taken to task for such offences.

If I suspect that an MDW is being illegally deployed, what should I do?

Members of the public who are aware of illegal deployment of MDWs or other employment infringements should report it via the MOM helpline for MDWs at 1800-339-5505 or online here.

For more information on the responsibilities of MDW employers, visit the MOM website.

Top image by MOM.

This is a sponsored article by the Ministry of Manpower.