Life as a Migrant domestic worker in Singapore

On Wednesday February 27th, Students Michael Andal and Ethan Forsberg and recent graduate Kylie McDonald presented about the working conditions of migrant domestic workers in Singapore during that week’s Great Decisions lecture/  . 

A migrant domestic worker moves from one country to another with hopes of finding emplyment. “They typically are responsible for doing household chores. They can also be responsible for taking care of young children or the elderly,” said Forsberg.

In Singapore, it’s almost seen as uncommon if you don’t have a migrant domestic worker. Many Singaporeans have busy lives and cannot do many things around the house. These domestic workers tend to be Filipino and female. Males tend to work constructions as migrant workers unless they apply to the government in Singapore for a special exemption.

Migrant domestic workers range from 23 to 50 years old, and helpers aged 50 and older can only renew their work until they’re 60 years old when they must return home.  “There is no future in Singapore for these women because they can’t gain citizenship,” said McDonald.  

The leading factor for seeking work in Singapore is the salary. “The workers in Singapore make around 600-800 Singaporean dollars, which is equivalent to about 466 U.S dollars,” Andal said.    

The work of migrant domestic workers is rigid and limited or restricted to a domestic worker lifestyle. They only get Sundays off. Employers have found loopholes and would pay them to come in on days they were supposed to be off. Only 41% of migrant domestic workers get the day off. The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) fought for migrant workers to have a mandatory 24 hours off, and most countries agreed. Singapore was not one of them. Mandated, all migrant workers in Singapore receive one day off out of the month, and it can’t be compensated in any way. 

Employers must supply the workers with medical assistance. They must ensure that if something is wrong, their worker goes to the doctor to ensure everything is alright. 

The next Great Descisions lecture features Professor Logan Mayfield talking about Science Across Borders and the impact of Artificial Intelligence) on Wednesday March 20th at 7:30 p.m. in CSB 276.

Patrick Curry Contributing Writer

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