What You Should Educate Your Domestic Helper to Follow During Covid-19 Situation
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the contours of all humanity: These days during the Circuit Breaker period, home is the new office; the internet is the new meeting room. And for the time being, office breaks with colleagues and after work hang out with friends are history.
Thankfully, as our local transmission numbers come down, the Government will gradually relax our restrictions and selectively resume economic activities. This will help support our businesses and protect livelihoods. Although Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has warned life is far from reverting back to normal, we all believe that acting accordingly and prepping is key.
To prevent the re-emergence of community cases, the Government will be introducing safe management measures – for individuals and businesses to adopt – as we exit the circuit breaker after 1 June 2020 and gradually resume normal activities. Everyone continuously has a part to play in the fight against COVID-19, and this naturally should also include our foreign domestic workers (FDWs), who have been playing an integral role in keeping many Singaporean households clean and families taken care of. Unfortunately, domestic helpers are under one of the most vulnerable women working segment affected by this COVID-19 outbreak, due to a combination of lack of awareness and strains on their physical health. It is therefore important to have a talk (if you have not already!) with your domestic helper.
Below, we compiled seven precautionary measures that a responsible employer should educate your domestic helper in Singapore to follow to help keep themselves and their helper healthy and safe.
1. Provide Masks to Your Helper
Following the announcement made on 14 April that it is now mandatory to wear a mask, employers should therefore provide their domestic helpers with suitable and sufficient masks along with teaching them on how to correctly wear and dispose the surgical masks and/or maintain and clean their reusable masks. As part of the continuous efforts to improve the safety of our foreign domestic workers, Ministry of Manpower working with MaskForce will also be distributing a Mask Kit to all domestic helpers in Singapore, each to receive two reusable cloth masks and one surgical mask sent to their residential address from late May.
2. Practice Social Distancing
Explain to your domestic helper the various safe distancing measures to reduce the risk of local spread of COVID-19. Such measures are to avoid all social interactions with other individuals and gathering in public spaces, always be mindful to maintain 1 metre distance from other individuals when outside of home, avoid shaking hands as well as sharing food, drinks, utensils and other personal items.
3. Take Her Temperature At Least Twice A Day
As a general practice, encourage everyone in the household, including your domestic helper to take their temperature at least twice a day, and check for any respiratory symptoms. Explain to your helper to be especially alert and highlight to you any unusual respiratory symptoms about those under her care who may not be able to appropriately communication for themselves such as toddler and the elderly.
4. Practice Good Personal Hygiene
By now you should have ensured that she is aware and have been paying attention in practising good personal hygiene in order to protect herself and those family members under her care. She should always wash her hands frequently with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based sanitizer and refraining from touching her faces unnecessarily especially after being in a crowded space such as the wet market, supermarket and after using public transport. She should also be encouraged to shower and change into a fresh set of clothes to minimise risk of cross-contamination.
You would need to also remind her to continually encourage those under care to follow these guidelines. Here are more specific guidelines for children and guidelines for the elderly that you can refer to.
5. Be Like A Family Member to Your Helper
The country is going through such a critical period when the people lying at the underprivileged strata are most vulnerable. Act as a morale booster to your domestic helper, to stimulate a positive mental positioning needed the most to overcome these tumultuous times.
6. Encourage Your Helper to Stay Home on Her Rest Days
Accordingly to the Ministry of Manpower, it is strongly advised that your domestic helper stays at home during her rest day. You can discuss with your domestic helper and reach a mutual arrangement, help her understand your concerns and that this is a temporary arrangement to safeguard her and the family against possible risks during this period. If your domestic helper needs to run some important personal errands, you can consider changing her rest day to a weekday instead. This ensures that she would be running those errands when it is less crowded outside.
However, keeping your domestic helper at home on her rest day does not mean that this is a chance for her to continue working. You should let her rest and consider including her in any fun home activities as she most likely misses her friends and family during this period. If you do need your domestic helper to work on her rest day and she is alright to forgo her rest day, then she should be compensated as per a usual workday, in lieu of the rest day.
7. Arrange for Alternate Travel Dates for Non-essential Home Leave
Unfortunately, now is not the best time for your foreign domestic helper to travel back home. First, if your helper travels during this advisory period and gets sick with COVID-19, the Government will not pay for her hospital treatment and this would result in even more distress situations for both yourself and her. Second, it puts everyone at risk, from you and your family to her and her family back home. Instead, you should discuss postponing your worker’s home leave to a time in the future when the global pandemic stabilizes.
You may also need to explain to your domestic helper that if she need to go home for any emergency reasons, she will be issued a mandatory 14-day Stay Home Notice / Quarantine upon her return to Singapore, during which she will not be allowed to leave either your residence or the alternative accommodations which she had to pay for herself.
Keeping Your Domestic Helper Healthy is A Priority for the Safety of Your Home
Your domestic helper is responsible for taking care of some of the most vulnerable people in your household. She is also the one who will be responsible for keeping your home sanitary. Because of her crucial role in taking care of your household, you hold a primarily responsibility as an employer to do whatever you can to keep her healthy. This ranges from proper education on hygiene and social distancing to finding alternatives to typical errands that can put her at risk. Hence, instead of sending your domestic helper to the grocery store, why not consider getting your grocery online and deliver instead. Lastly, while it may make sense to ramp up cleaning and disinfecting efforts, you have to be mindful of your domestic helper’s workload. During this trying time, it is imperative to educate, bring awareness and teach your maid to work smarter — not harder — to mitigate additional stress and anxiety.
Here you can refer to and download MOM’s publications, guides and videos that are useful for your foreign domestic workers to understand in their native language.
If you are in need of a domestic helper from a reliable foreign maid agency in Singapore, let us work together with you on your selection to find the most suitable domestic help services that you need.
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