Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road in Singapore. Photo: Google Maps
Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road in Singapore. Photo: Google Maps

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore has insisted that a study claiming six out of 10 foreign domestic workers are exploited by their employers is misleading.

A survey, conducted by the independent research consultancy Research Across Borders, found that of 735 Filipino and Indonesian respondents, 60% identified themselves as exploited. They cited poor living conditions, excessive work hours, salary deductions and violence from their employers. The survey was conducted in Lucky Plaza and other locations.

Research Across Borders also lamented that foreign domestic workers are excluded from the Employment Act. Under the provisions of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, they do not receive the same legal protections or medical coverage as other residents.

The MOM said in a statement on Friday, however, that the study painted a misleading picture as it did not consider the “unique nature” of domestic work. It also said it conducts its own regular surveys to better understand the employment conditions and welfare of foreign domestic workers in Singapore.

According to a survey of 1,000 respondents conducted by the ministry in 2015, 97% said they were satisfied with working in Singapore, 76% intended to continue working in Singapore after their contracts had expired, 79% would recommend Singapore as a place to work, and 97% said their workload was either just right or that they could handle more.

The MOM also iterated that the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act requires employers to provide prompt salaries, proper food, rest days, compensation, medical care and safe working conditions for their domestic workers. Employers who violate the law may face fines and jail terms, and can be banned from hiring foreign domestic workers in the future.

As of June 2017, Singapore has 243,000 foreign domestic workers.

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