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Employers not allowed at maid medical exams as part of new measures to help detect abuse: MOM

SINGAPORE: Employers will not be allowed to be present during their maid's six-monthly medical examination as part of new measures introduced to help detect abuse, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Aug 5). 

The measures will take effect from Aug 29, said the ministry. 

In a media release, MOM said the check-ups will be conducted without the presence of their employers or representatives "to provide a safe environment for migrant domestic workers to speak up if they need help".  

Home-based examinations will also be disallowed from Aug 29. 

Currently, the examination only screens for pregnancy and infectious diseases such as syphilis, HIV and tuberculosis.

Among the new measures is the recording of the maid's weight and height to calculate her body-mass index (BMI). 

"Over time, this will enable doctors to compare against the migrant domestic worker's past six-monthly examination records, and pick up signs such as significant weight loss for further investigation," said MOM. 

Doctors will also check for signs of "suspicious and unexplained injuries".  

"This is complemented by MOM’s and the Ministry of Health's (MOH) guidelines to doctors on what to look out for, and the follow-up actions to take if worrying signs are detected." 

Finally, it will be compulsory to submit all six-monthly medical examination forms to MOM regardless of the test results. 

These new measures were made in consultations with MOH, medical practitioners from the College of Family Physicians Singapore (CFPS) and the Singapore Medical Association (SMA), as well as employers and employment agencies, said MOM. 

Last month, MOM announced that employers will have to provide their maids with at least one rest day a month that cannot be compensated away. 

This was one of several the ministry announced to help strengthen support for maids and their well-being. The mandatory rest day policy will take effect in end-2022.

MOM said on Thursday it did not consider increasing the frequency of the medical examination as this would lead to higher costs for employers. 

If there were more check-ups, it "may also be perceived as added inconvenience for both employers and the migrant domestic workers themselves", said MOM. 

MOM added that clinics are expected to review and "may make their own commercial decisions" to adjust the examination fees.

"Through our consultations with CFPS and SMA, we anticipate that the cost increase, if any, will be minimal," it said. 

Employers are also encouraged to make appointments with clinics before sending their maids for the examination. 

Source: CNA/ad(ta)

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