A helper A** from Singapore has asked me to share her story.

Her employer usually did not allow her to go out, she had to ask everytime she needed to go out. There were CCTVs on 24 hours a day. Then, in may 2017, A** ‘s employer went on holiday, so for a short while, A** had plenty of free time at home. She was scrolling her FB account one day and she came across an ad on a group: An agent was trying to find someone to help a lady on a wheelchair to go shopping.

Payment was $50/3hrs so it sounded quite interesting. The ad from the FB group was not clear. Usually it would say only for Singaporean or for PR, but this one did not mention anything. So A** thought “this is not housework, anyone can apply, this is just to push a wheelchair around.” She decided to apply for it and went to push an old lady around for 3 hours, unaware that it was considered as part time work.

It turned out that the lady was not happy and she reported the agent for employing a FDW. Eventually A** was caught up by MOM.

A** transferred and started with a new employer in August 2017. The case was brought up to court in September 2017. The MOM officer told A** that he would tell the judge that she was not aware, and she only did it once, and he would ask the judge for forgiveness. In the meantime, A** was not happy working for her new employer, she wanted to transfer, but there was nothing she could do because the case was on-going. Mistreatment from the employer, abuse, shouts… she could do nothing other than being patient because of the on-going case. It was a very stressful, very tiring, very emotional time. When she spoke to the MOM officer, he just said, “you need to wait for the case to be closed, wait for my call”.
Eventually in April 2018, she received a letter from MOM stating that she was allowed to work.

This has been a very stressful learning curve for A**. With hindsight, she thinks she was too naïve and she regrets going for a $50 job and risking being banned from Singapore. She asked me to share this story to tell all FDWs around that she was very lucky indeed whereas others were not that lucky. Her friend for example got fined S$2000 and is being banned from Singapore because she worked part-time illegally for 4 years.

So this is a message to all helpers in Singapore, be careful. Do not risk your status in Singapore by doing part-time work. You know it is illegal. There is so much to lose if you get caught. You will be sent home, you will be blacklisted and away go all your dreams of money, savings, investments etc…


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