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Experts Caution Against Singapore’s Reliance on Foreign Domestic Workers

Singapore has been among one of the go-to places of domestic workers from countries within the region such as the Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, among others.

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However, with the recent attention focused on Singapore’s caregivers, a discussion on how the country’s elderly population has been put at risk due to the hiring of untrained maids, caregivers, and foreign female domestic workers for this purpose has posed a question as to the need for hiring domestic workers in Singapore for the long term.

Experts Caution Against Singapore’s Reliance on Foreign Domestic Workers

Hiring Foreign Domestic Workers Not Sustainable for Singapore

The recent discussion comes at a time when the government is set to lay down the Caregiver Support Action Plan, a new Home Caregiving Grant which will be introduced at the end of this year, replacing the Foreign Domestic Worker grant, as shared in a report by The Independent.

At the heart of the discourse, Associate Professor of Economics at the Singapore University of Social Sciences Walter Theseira pointed to one underlying issue – the sustainability of having maids perform care giving roles to the ageing population of Singapore.

According to Prof. Theseira, Singapore has to acknowledge the fact that having foreign domestic workers in many middle-class households is not a sustainable practice to keep.

He explained that even if these workers come from poorer regional countries, they are not going to remain poor forever. The rapid development of the countries where majority of these workers come from will make the prospect of working overseas for female workers less and less attractive in the long run.

Also, Prof. Thereisa explained that the cost of hiring foreign workers will also go up. Therefore, dependence on foreign workers will lead to a situation that is neither economically sustainable nor available in the long run.

Another downside to hiring maids as an ‘all-in-one’ solution is the hit on the professional sector that provides similar services.

In Singapore, maids have become integral to the ease of household management in most family units. Roles of housemaids include sending off and picking up of the children from school, accompanying elderly charges to the hospital, keeping homes clean, and cooking meals for the family.

This is especially important for Singaporeans who work irregular hours as the maids’ presence in the household will provide the extra eyes and hands to manage what needs to be done at home. And of course, hiring a household helper is relatively cheaper than getting specialised home and eldercare services.



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