The Singapore government’s pilot Household Services Scheme has won plenty of support among foreign domestic workers, with some saying it offers higher earnings, greater freedom and more rest time.
Introduced a year ago by the Ministry of Manpower, the HSS was intended to meet rising demand for more flexible part-time cleaning services. Instead of being tied to one household, workers would be taken around multiple premises by the contacting companies.
Participating firms were also allowed to hire domestic staff from Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand on top of their existing quotas of foreign workers, who are mostly drawn from countries like Malaysia and China.
Myanmar-born cleaners Yee Khin Thu, 36, and Lal Than Chhiari, 31, switched to the HSS after formerly working as live-in domestic workers, and say it is the best decision they have made. They now work with two companies, Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore) reported.
The women are earning almost twice as much as previously, get free transport from their employers and Yee does not pay anything for her accommodation in a Housing & Development Board flat: Lal has to contribute S$200 toward her rent.
Other living costs are higher, as they no longer stay in a household, but the upside is that they now more freedom to make lifestyle choices and there is more rest time.
Yee, who had to look after both children and elderly residents in her previous job as a full-time caregiver, said that while her employer had treated her very well, she was expected to be constantly available and had very little personal time.
Having more downtime also means the women have increased opportunities to catch up with their compatriots and get to know Singapore a little better.