What can domestic workers do if employers do not provide enough food?

Under S’pore’s laws, employers face fines, jail and more if they do not provide foreign domestic workers adequate food.


A non-profit organisation (NGO) recently claimed that we have no laws to ensure that foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore receive adequate food. This is not true.

Under Singapore’s laws, employers face penalties such as fines, jail terms and permanent debarment from hiring FDWs if they do not provide adequate food. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has taken such employers to task in the past.

Over 97% say they have sufficient food

With laws in place to ensure their well-being, the majority of FDWs are happy working here. From MOM’s surveys, over 97% of FDWs also said that they had sufficient food to eat every day.

Voice concerns early

The NGO article claimed that FDWs who filed food-related complaints to MOM lost their jobs and were sent home. This is also not true.

Of the small number of FDWs who approach MOM for assistance with food problems, most have already left their jobs of their own accord before filing the complaint. Usually the complaints are the result of misunderstandings between the FDW and her employer. Sometimes the FDWs don't like the food provided; sometimes they are not used to the type of meals consumed in their employers’ households.

FDWs need to make adjustments in many areas when they are new in employment, and food is one of them. Those who have concerns should voice these with their employers so that issues can be sorted out amicably. Employers are also encouraged to be more sensitive and mindful of their FDWs’ needs, and ask about what they typically eat.

Assistance channels

FDWs who have employment issues may contact MOM’s helpline at 1800 339 5505 or call the Centre for Domestic Employees at 1800 225 5233.

If you have concerns about the well-being of an FDW, please contact MOM at mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg so that they can follow up on it. Please do not post speculations online without first verifying them.

Source: Ministry of Manpower

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