Maids may be in shelters for months waiting for issues to be resolved
Domestic workers may stay for months while waiting for issues to be resolved
When maids go to the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) shelter, they usually stay for anywhere from a few days to a year, depending on the complexity of the case.
But Ms Parti Liyani, who went to Home for help after being sacked over theft charges while working for the family of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, stayed at the shelter for almost four years. Like other maids facing employment or legal issues, the Indonesian had nowhere to go while investigations were ongoing.
A spokesman for Home said maids often approach them for help because of the exploitative or abusive practices of employers and agents.
She said these could include physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of salary, being overworked or illegally deployed or having to do dangerous work.
She added: "A number of our residents come to our shelter for issues which are salary-related and associated problems such as day-off payments, recruitment fees, or deductions from their salary for medical fees and tickets. Many of them also complain about well-being issues."
She said depending on the cases, some of these residents are allowed to work. But those who do not get permission to do so become unable to earn for their families back home.
Organisations like Home try to take care of their physical, mental and emotional well-being during this period.
The spokesman said it provides medical, counselling and befriending support services for an overall recovery from their experiences.
She added: "Home organises capacity-building programmes and activities such as English classes, baking classes, art therapy, yoga and varied workshops to equip the domestic workers with necessary skills to face the world optimistically."
After Ms Parti was arrested in 2016 over the theft charges, she could not return to Indonesia as investigations were ongoing.
She was acquitted of all charges on Tuesday and is expected to return to Indonesia soon after resolving administrative matters here.
Maids have also approached another organisation that works with migrant workers, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), for help.
TWC2 vice-president Alex Au said workers typically want to find work again even while waiting for the outcome of investigations.
TWC2 helps them interact with the Ministry of Manpower to seek permission for this.