Jude Lee
During Employment

(Source: MOM)

As an employer, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your foreign domestic helper. You should provide rest days, proper accommodation, adequate medical care and safe work conditions for your foreign domestic helper. Below are details of MOM’s rest day requirement in the law and employers’ responsibilities.


Rest Days

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had made it a compulsory for employers to provide a weekly rest day for their foreign domestic helpers from January 2013. This is to ensure that foreign domestic helpers get enough mental and physical rest.


A rest day provides your helper with an emotional and mental break from work, and helps improve her productivity at work. Rest days also improve your helper’s well-being, which has a direct impact on the quality of care your helper can provide to you and your loved ones.


MOM also gives employers the option to compensate their foreign domestic helpers if they did not take their rest days. This allows greater flexibility for the employers and their domestic helpers. The compensation should be at least one day’s salary (salary divided by 26 days) or a replacement rest day within the same month.


You and your domestic helper should mutually agree on which day of the week she should take the rest day. Having only verbal agreements runs the risk of misunderstandings and disputes, which will strain the employment relationship. To avoid such incidents, as well as to have greater clarity and certainty for both employers and foreign domestic helpers, it is in the interests of both parties to clearly document the mutually agreed rest day arrangements.


If your foreign domestic helper agrees to work on her rest day, you have to compensate her with one of the following:

  • At least 1 day’s wage*; or
  • A replacement rest day taken within the same month.

*The daily wage is calculated by dividing her monthly salary by 26 working days, as there are typically 4 weeks (and therefore 4 rest days) in a month.


To find out more on the rest day requirement, refer to these handy guides:

  • FDW Weekly Rest Day: A Guide for Employers – in English, Mandarin, Malay or Tamil.


You can contact MOM at mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg if you have questions about the weekly rest day.


Initial difficulties

Many foreign domestic workers come from rural areas, and may not be used to staying in a city. A new foreign domestic helper from a rural area may encounter some of these difficulties:

  • Understanding and communicating in your language.
  • Using modern household appliances.
  • Adjusting to living in high-rise buildings.
  • Having different practices in taking care of children.
  • Having different ways of preparing food

Give her time to settle down and familiarise herself with your way of life. You can help by taking time to supervise and coach her, especially during the initial stages of her employment. You can also teach her on food hygience.



You need to ensure that your foreign domestic helper’s accommodation meets the following requirements:

  • Adequate shelter: the accommodation must adequately protect your domestic helper from environmental elements such as sun, rain or strong winds.
  • Basic amenities: you must at least provide your helper with a mattress, pillow and blanket.
  • Sufficient ventilation: your helper’s accommodation must be sufficiently ventilated. Mechanical ventilation (e.g. electrical fan) should be provided if natural ventilation is inadequate.
  • Safety: your helper should not sleep near any dangerous equipment or structure that could potentially cause harm or hurt to her.
  • Modesty: your helper must not sleep in the same room as a male adult or teenager.
  • Space and privacy: you should provide your helper with a separate room. If that is not possible, you should ensure that her accommodation has adequate space and privacy.


Adequate Food

You must provide your foreign domestic helper with 3 meals a day. Your helper requires sufficient food to perform household chores.

An example of a day’s food intake for a female engaged in moderate activity is as follows:

  • Breakfast: 4 slices of bread with spread.
  • Lunch: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit
  • Dinner: 1 bowl of rice + three-quarter cup of cooked vegetables + palm-sized amount of meat (fish/poultry/beef/lamb) + fruit

Be sensitive to her needs when it comes to food. Do not force her to eat food that she is not supposed to or is not comfortable with. For example, your helper may not be able to eat certain food due to her religious beliefs, or she may not be accustomed to your family’s dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian food or porridge).


Medical care

As an employer, you are responsible for your foreign domestic helper’s medical needs.

You need to bear the full cost of any medical care, including hospitalisation, and provide her with medical (minimum $15,000) and personal accident insurance (minimum $40,000). If you are worried that the coverage is not enough, you may check with us on the option of topping up for more coverage (hospitalisation and surgical). You must not ask your foreign domestic helper to bear any medical cost, unless it is for cosmetic purposes.

For more details on medical and personal accident insurance required by law, click here http://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/work-permit-for-foreign-domestic-worker/eligibility-and-requirements/insurance-requirements


Open communication

Being away from home, your helper may experience homesickness and loneliness. As her employer, you can help her alleviate those feelings by letting her communicate with her family and friends back home.


Family integration

Try your best to integrate your domestic helper into your family since she will be staying in your house during her employment period. Make an effort to understand her different background. Patience and tolerance may be the best way to minimise any conflicts and disputes that could affect her job performance. You can do that by being patient and tolerant and making an effort to understand her background.


Safe Work Conditions

You must ensure that your helper works safely. She has to follow the approved work practices laid out in MOM’s training materials and courses (SIP and EOP).