Letter of the week: Make it legal for maids to work part-time

A domestic helper pushes an elderly woman on a wheelchair on Oct 25, 2019.
A domestic helper pushes an elderly woman on a wheelchair on Oct 25, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Working a few hours part-time on rest days is moonlighting and is illegal. The law is clear about that (Clamp down on maids who work part-time illegally; Sept 12).

But there is a reason why some maids still do it.

It is the same as why some Singaporeans hold two jobs - to make ends meet or pay off their debts. I know what poverty is and why, in my younger days, I had to work while others could rest.

The household work of every family is different and some families really do not require full-time maids. Hence, limited part-time work would be ideal for their needs. Allowing maids to bridge this gap would be a good match.

If the law can legally allow maids to work on rest days and be paid in lieu of their day off, why can't the law be tweaked to allow them to work four to five hours for other families who need them most when their employers don't require their services?

Poverty and hardship forced these maids to incur thousands of dollars of debt to pay recruitment agents to secure jobs here, resulting in them working with no pay for up to a year's salary.

We need to recognise why they had to leave their children behind to travel thousands of kilometres to work overseas. Earning money to support their families back home is the prime objective.

We should empathise with their situation to help them financially within reasonable limits. If we allow them to put in a few hours of part-time work on domestic tasks on their rest days in private homes, they can earn some extra income.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi