Commentary: Improve welfare of foreign domestic workers to prevent ‘care drain’, Channel NewsAsia, 7 May 2018

Channel NewsAsia featured a second commentary from Yale-NUS Associate Professor of Social Sciences (Sociology and Public Policy) Anju Mary Paul who opined that Singapore could take steps to become a better and more attractive country for foreign domestic workers to work. Noting that Singapore, compared to countries in the Middle East, had a much better track record when it comes to the treatment of FDWs, Assoc Prof Paul also highlighted that countries like Canada cover FDWs under their labour laws.

Comparing Singapore to Hong Kong, which are both small territories, Assoc Prof Paul observed that Hong Kong fared better as minimum allowable wage, entitled maternity leave and more protection laws are given to FDWs. She added that more than 50 percent of the 250 Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, whom she and her students surveyed, said that they used Singapore as a stepping stone to secure higher wages and better working conditions in Hong Kong. She concluded that if Singapore did not position itself as a top destination for such migrants, the best of these workers would continue seeking out destinations where they could enjoy better working conditions and protections. A “care drain” – as opposed to a brain drain – will begin to develop, strains on households with young and old family members would emerge, and wasted time and energy would be regularly spent training new workers to keep up with the high turnover.


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