Forum: Humane to let maids work limited hours part-time

A domestic helper pushes an elderly woman on a wheelchair on Oct 25, 2019.
A domestic helper pushes an elderly woman on a wheelchair on Oct 25, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

I disagree with the concerns Mr Phillip Tan Fong Lip raised over domestic helpers and part-time employment (Allowing maids to work part-time a kind but unwise move, Sept 26).

Mr Tan should note that, in the status quo, maids already have the option of doing additional work for their employer during official days off. There is an incongruence in permitting such arrangements while prohibiting external engagements.

Moreover, presenting the option of part-time employment does not take away the option of a rest day for maids who would rather unwind.

I believe that each maid is best qualified to judge her own capacity for work and need for rest. I see no issue with giving maids this option to choose what they prefer.

Second, on employer altruism, Mr Tan makes sweeping generalisations about the maid-employer relationship.

I employ a maid. If I knew that their services were not required around the clock, why would I object to their pursuing other beneficial endeavours during their "downtime"? Who am I to place arbitrary limits?

Third, on the issue of liability, one imagines that part-time work is not so hazardous as to make this a decisive argument.

Even if a mishap were to occur, the standard logic of liability - the location, time in relation to clocked hours, and the employer who assigned the duty leading to injury - would surely apply.

In the larger scheme of things, there is no good reason for our inclusive society to deny maids meaningful opportunities.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Humane to let maids work limited hours part-time'. Print Edition | Subscribe