Should Domestic Helpers Get Their Own Room? Expats In Singapore Share Their Thoughts

08 June 2017

Would you give your domestic helper her own room, if it means having space constraints at home?

“We have four bedrooms, and three kids, shares Australian expat Susanne Krause, “and we decided that our twins, who are younger, could share a room, and our helper, Ani, would have a full bedroom to herself.”

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Is this necessary? According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), employers should, ideally, provide helpers with their own rooms.

Their minimum standards include: adequate shelter with protection from the elements and proper ventilation, safety (no dangerous equipment or unsafe structures) and modesty (meaning, she should not share a room with a male teenager or adult). 

But a 2016 survey by nonprofit Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) found that 40 percent of helpers in Singapore share a room, and 3 percent sleep in the kitchen, living room or hallway.

“When we started looking around for a larger place and for a helper, we found her before we found the new condo,” recalls British expat Annalise Packer. “So, for about three months until we moved, she shared a room with my 3-year-old son, and slept on a trundle bed.”

This type of arrangement is usually acceptable, as long as the helper is allowed “sufficient rest”, states MOM.

This is particularly important if she is sharing a room with children or elderly persons. Is she expected to tend to them if they wake? If so, consider scheduling rest time during the day so that she can catch up on lost sleep. 

What about giving your domestic helper her own room? While some employers may feel concerned about using the small maid’s rooms or bomb shelters allocated for helpers in many Singapore homes, these can be suitable options – and sometimes the best choice.

“Our condo has three bedrooms and a bomb shelter with its own small bathroom off the kitchen,” explains American expat Erica Grant. “Our kids are not great sleepers, so our helper sleeps in the bomb shelter.”

Erica says she made sure to conduct interviews at home “so helpers could see what the accommodation would be like.” 

 

By Karola Clark, The Finder (Issue 283), May 2017

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More on The Finder:

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