Filipina domestic workers use their rest day to send money home
In this 2018 – 2019 study on access to weekly days off for domestic workers in Singapore, TWC2 volunteers in our research team found that
(a) there is a wait penalty of around 4.5 years before domestic workers gain two days off per month;
(b) newly arrived workers and workers from Myanmar are disproportionately affected by the policy of trading in days off for additional salary;
(c) power differentials make negotiations difficult; and
(d) caring for the elderly is particularly strenuous for domestic workers.
The study also discovered how domestic workers use various strategies in order to increase their own ability to bargain for rest days, but as noted in (a) above, these strategies take a long time to achieve effect.
These findings support TWC2’s longstanding position that the current option to trade away domestic workers’ weekly days off for extra wages should be more tightly regulated to make two rest days a month non-tradeable. All caregivers need a break for their own well-being, and we should respect, value, and support the rights of those who care for those most vulnerable among us.
A further discussion within this paper addresses the pressing need to put domestic work within the ambit of the Employment Act.