Maid in S'pore: 'Days off cost money'

Maid in S'pore: 'Days off cost money'
A crowd mostly having picnics in their own groups opposite Lucky Plaza at Tong Building on 9 March 2014. This has become a popular hang-out for maids as more are getting their days off.

Six years ago, when her husband left for another woman, she was forced to stand on her own feet.

Miss Yunita Sari, then 25, had just given birth to a son and had an ageing father to support.

With experience as a maid back home, the Indonesian left her only child in the care of her father and became a foreign domestic worker. She worked in Malaysia and Jordan before coming to Singapore six months ago.

She has opted not to take a day off, so she can earn as much as possible. She does not mind working seven days a week.

"I miss my son, but what to do? I need the money," said Miss Yunita, 31, who calls home only once every three months.

She now earns $520 (about 4.9 million rupiah) monthly. This is a huge increase from her pay back home and about three times what she was earning in Malaysia and Jordan.

Another maid, Miss War War Aye from Myanmar asked to work on two of the four days off she is entitled to every month.

The reason: She spends too much money when she takes four days off.

She said that in 2008, when she was 23, she would spend $50 each time she met her cousin and a friend on her day off.

Now that she limits herself to two days off, coupled with a higher salary of $480, Miss War saves at least $400 a month.

This will help the 29-year-old put her two younger sisters through school -the initial reason for her coming here to work.

Having fewer days off does not mean she has less time to rest.

She said: "I still get enough rest because my ma'am lets me rest after I complete my chores."

According to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers have to give their maids a weekly rest day, or compensation in lieu.

A Manpower Ministry survey showed that 63 per cent of the 2,000 maids they spoke to do not get a weekly rest day.

In 2010 it was worse with the figure at 87 per cent.

The maids surveyed had been working in Singapore for a year.

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