Some maids still barred from going out on rest days by employers
They say this is due to their employers' Covid-19 fears
It has been more than four months since Filipino foreign domestic worker (FDW) Asuncion, 48, was allowed to leave her employer's condominium unit.
When the coronavirus situation here worsened in March, her employer told her to stop going out on rest days.
But even after Singapore entered phase two of its post-circuit breaker reopening, she was still barred from spending her rest day outside.
Ms Asuncion, who declined to give her full name, told The New Paper: "My employer said she is worried about me getting infected because she has a two-year-old. I understand her concerns, but I know how to follow the rules.
"So many people are already going out, why can't I? I feel so stressed being stuck at home every day."
Like her, some maids have yet to spend a single rest day outside even after more than a month since phase two kicked in.
In an advisory to employers last month, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said FDWs can spend their rest days outside but should seek the consent of their employers to do so on a weekday. MOM later clarified in response to queries from TNP that FDWs can also continue to take it on weekends.
Of the 18 maids TNP spoke to, five said their employers still do not allow them to take their rest days outside due to fears about the coronavirus.
A spokesman for the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training said it has received calls from FDWs in such situations.
She added that being able to take their rest days outside is important for the social and mental well-being of FDWs.
Ms Jaya Anil Kumar, a case manager at the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), shared the story of a Filipino FDW in her 30s who claimed she was accused by her employers of being selfish for wanting to spend her rest days outside, even though they were going out regularly themselves.
The maid, who has not gone out on her rest days since the circuit breaker, told Home it was difficult for her to rest in her employer's home as she does not have her own room and it feels like she is always at work.
Mr Shamsul Kamar, executive director of the Centre for Domestic Employees, told TNP that it has urged employers not to restrict their FDWs from going out on rest days since the start of phase two, and employers are largely receptive to its advice.
Office manager Dina Sham, 39, said she allows her Indonesian maid to take her rest days outside and added: "It can be suffocating to stay at home all the time. She needs her 'me time' too. I just remind her on the risks and what to take note of when she is out."
Another employer, 59, who declined to be named, told TNP she allows her maid to go out only on Fridays.
She said: "I am not young and I have underlying health problems. I can't promise where she will be on Sundays when she meets her friends."
A spokesman for MOM told TNP there is no notable increase in complaints received about maids' rest day arrangements in phase two.
She added: "MOM has been increasing its outreach and educational efforts to ensure FDWs understand and comply with the advisories issued... FDWs who are socially responsible will give their employers confidence on rest day arrangements."