Employers must do their part

I refer to the report "An employer can make or break a maid" (The New Paper, March 9).

There are many factors causing stress to foreign domestic workers (FDWs) besides not having a day-off.

Studies have shown that an engaged worker is likely to be more motivated, happy and will likely stay on the job longer.

Employers must do their part to help the FDWs, especially if they are in Singapore for the first time, to adjust and adapt to their new environment.

While the FDWs must try their best to learn quickly and get adjusted to their new workplace and what is expected of them, employers must be patient, caring and engaging.

Employers can help their FDWs adjust and adapt better through simple acts like ensuring their dietary needs are taken care of, assuring them that they can communicate with their family members back home regularly, checking if they have any issues or concerns and taking them out for dinner or outings along with the family regularly.

While the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) strongly advocates that FDWs be given a rest day, we would like to call on employers to encourage their FDWs to participate in social and recreational activities to help them unwind and release their stress.

Fast has been operating a 24-hour helpline for FDWs since last June. Although we occasionally receive calls from FDWs who are distressed and those who want to find out about their rights and obligations, about 40 per cent of the calls we receive regularly are from FDWs who are lonely. Many just want someone to talk to.

This prompted us to start a Befrienders Service for the girls. The service offers a platform for the girls to mingle, take part in team- and confidence-building and to share their thoughts and concerns with our volunteer counsellors.

Although our services provide a platform and safety net to support FDWs who are lonely or depressed, employers can do a much better job if they engage their FDWs regularly

This article was first published on Mar 16, 2015.
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