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To the Singapore Government
Provide equal and comprehensive legal protection to
migrant domestic workers, by:
- Amending the Employment Act and Workmens
Compensation Act to provide equal protection to domestic workers,
including regulations on rest days, hours of work, salary deductions,
termination of contracts, and compensation for workplace injuries and
- Establishing and periodically reviewing a
national minimum wage to address domestic workers vulnerability to wage
exploitation. The National Wages Council should also investigate and
recommend policies that promote equal pay for equal work in the domestic
- Creating a standard contract that protects
migrant domestic workers rights in accordance with national provisions in
the Employment Act and international labor standards, and in consultation
with migrant workers groups, sending countries, employment agencies, and
the International Labor Organization.
- Revising the work permit regulations so that
domestic workers are no longer forbidden from becoming pregnant and have
complete and equal access to health care, including to health information,
contraception, and abortion services.
- Changing work permit regulations to protect
migrant domestic workers right to marry.
Enforce policies that help prevent abusive practices like
forced labor and forced confinement, by:
- Increasing enforcement of the Employment
Agencies Act to ensure compliance with caps on agency fees.
- Implementing policies so that migrant domestic
workers do not spend several months working off their debts with little or
no pay, a situation that fosters a range of human rights abuses. The
government should look to the Philippines and Hong Kong, who require
employers to pay for round-trip airfare and most expenses associated with recruitment
and placement, including those now covered by private loans in Singapore. The Singapore government should consider adjusting the monthly levy to offset
the cost to employers.
- Abolishing the S$5,000 [U.S.$2,950] security
- Investigating cost-effective ways to open bank
accounts for migrant domestic workers and for employers to pay wages
automatically each month.
- Revising policies that allow employers to
repatriate migrant domestic workers at will and that require a domestic
worker to obtain her employers permission before transferring to another
- Changing work permit conditions so that migrant
domestic workers have the option of residing in independent living
quarters from their employers.
Create and improve mechanisms to prevent, monitor, and
respond to abuse of migrant domestic workers, by:
- Inspecting workplace conditions regularly, for
example, through visits and private interviews with migrant domestic
workers. They should coordinate with migrant workers groups, employment
agencies, and the police.
- Monitoring employment agencies more
rigorously. Create a new accreditation body that includes representatives
from employment agencies, consumer rights organizations, domestic workers
rights organizations, the Ministry of Manpower, and sending countries.
Revise accreditation criteria to create more detailed and comprehensive
standard employment contracts, rules on agency fees, and procedures for
resolving and reporting problems.
- Creating accessible complaint mechanisms for
migrant domestic workers who suffer abuse. Examples include hotlines
advertised in various media in domestic workers native languages,
questionnaires on work conditions during periodic medical check-ups, and
Enhance domestic workers access to the justice system,
- Creating helpdesks at the airport and main
police stations with staff fluent in the primary languages spoken by
migrant workers. Implement training programs for police officers and
immigration officials to identify and respond to domestic workers abuse
complaints. The police should have a protocol for handling cases of abuse
including immediate health care and social service referrals.
- Recruiting more police staff proficient in the
predominant languages spoken by migrant workers, including Bahasa
Indonesia, Tagalog, Sinhalese, and Tamil.
- Allowing greater flexibility in the types of
work that domestic workers can perform while waiting for the completion of
an investigation into a labor complaint or criminal prosecution to provide
them alternative employment possibilities.
- Prosecuting employers and employment agents
who violate the rights of domestic workers according to national laws,
including for forced confinement. Provide civil remedies, including
monetary damages that migrant domestic workers can pursue.
- Disseminating information on domestic workers
rights and the obligations of labor agents, employers, and governments
through the media, cooperation with faith-based and private migrants
organizations, and partnerships with sending countries governments.
Protect domestic migrant workers freedom of movement and
association, and provide assistance to organizations aiding migrant workers,
- Cooperating with migrant workers
organizations, including through establishing regular consultations and by
providing funding. These include shelters, skills-training programs, legal
aid programs, and migrant worker peer networks.
- The National Trades Union Congress should
create a campaign to organize migrant domestic workers, underscoring the
need for them to have days off to do so.
Sign and ratify major international human rights treaties
setting forth the rights of migrants. Comply with treaty-body reporting
- Ratify the Convention on the Protection of the
Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Migrant
Workers Convention); the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (United
Nations Trafficking Protocol); the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR); and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
To the Governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Other Labor-Sending Countries
Improve protections for citizens working in Singapore, by:
- Improving victim services at embassies and diplomatic
missions in Singapore. Provide resources including adequate staffing,
access to legal aid, health care, trauma counseling, and shelter.
- Cooperating with NGOs in home countries and in Singapore to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, including through establishing
regular consultations and by providing funding.
- Opening embassies and diplomatic missions on Sunday, the
day most migrant workers have off. Support skills training programs, and
recreation and cultural centers for domestic workers.
- Tracking and making publicly available data on the number
of migrant workers and cases of abuse.
Regulate and monitor labor recruitment agencies and
migrant worker training centers, by:
- Regulating labor agencies and migrant worker training
centers, clearly defining standards for fees, minimum health and safety
conditions, and workers freedom of movement. Impose substantial penalties
on labor agencies and agents who violate these regulations.
- Establishing mechanisms for regular and independent
monitoring of labor agencies, including unannounced inspections.
- Report cases of abuse to MOM [Ministry of Manpower], the
police, embassies, and accreditation bodies.
- Implement a standard employment contract that establishes
detailed protections on wages, hours of work, days off, salary deductions,
rest leave, airfare, and other terms of employment according to national provisions
in the Employment Act and international labor standards.
- Create professional development courses for employment
- Monitor the wellbeing of the domestic worker through phone
calls and spot visits, especially during the first three months of
- Create recommended pay scales according to work experience
and other qualifications, such as education. Abolish discriminatory
policies that determine entry-level wages according to nationality rather
than work experience, education, or other relevant criteria.
- Exercise due diligence before placing a replacement
domestic worker with an employer accused of abuse.
- Provide resources for support services, including legal
aid, health care, shelter, job training, and psychological counseling.
- Provide resources for strengthening the capacity of
research and advocacy organizations working on behalf of migrant workers,
especially those focusing on female domestic workers.
- Raise attention to the abuses faced by migrant domestic
workers in bilateral and multilateral meetings with the governments that
receive or send migrant workers. Press for the reforms recommended above.
- The Global Commission on International Migration should
address in detail the situation of migrant domestic workers in its
research, consultations, and recommendations.
- The International Labor Organization should ensure
substantial attention to domestic workers when implementing its plan of
action on migrant workers adopted in June 2004. The ILO should also
create model bilateral/multilateral labor agreements and model standard
contracts for domestic workers to aid governments undertaking reforms.
- Create a working group to study regional labor migration
and formulate recommendations, including for multilateral agreements on
labor standards and protections for migrant domestic workers.