Employers who have been convicted of abusing foreign domestic workers are permanently barred by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower from hiring new ones, but a newspaper has found that some are finding ways to recruit new staff.
Checks conducted by The Straits Times revealed that a few convicted maid abusers had somehow managed to hire new workers. One of them was a 31-year-old woman who admitted that she had hired three domestic workers since her release from prison.
She had been sentenced to 20 months a few years ago for punching and kicking her former helper on several occasions.
The woman would not say how she went about hiring her new workers.
It is believed that some convicted abusers ask members of their extended family to recruit workers for them because members of their household are also covered by the ban.
Local employment agencies said the authorities could do more to help them identify abusive employers by, for instance, providing them with a list of convicted maid abusers so they can be weeded out early in the hiring process.
Migrant worker rights groups said the ban is an effective deterrent because the consequences are felt by the entire household. However, Sheena Kanwar, executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, called for stronger enforcement of the ban.
She referred to a loophole in the worker application process, where “an applicant is required to declare all the members in that household, but the applicant can choose to not declare someone who has been banned.”
Ethan Guo, general manager of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), said that employers who are intent on engaging maids even when they are banned “will always find a way around it.”
The key is to ensure domestic helpers have access to help if they face difficulties, he added.