SINGAPORE: A scheme that allows companies to hire migrant workers to provide part-time domestic services such as home cleaning and car washing has been expanded to include basic care for children and the elderly.
From Wednesday (Mar 15), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will launch a two-year pilot programme to expand the scope of the Household Services Scheme (HSS). The scheme was launched as a pilot in 2017 before it was formalised in 2021 and made permanent.
Companies on the pilot will be able to hire more migrant workers to provide such services to households, the ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.
"This will primarily benefit families that require such domestic support for only a few hours a day or week and give them more options to meet their household needs."
According to MOM, workers from companies on the HSS pilot can work at multiple houses on a part-time basis to provide select household services. Unlike migrant domestic workers who live with their employers and can only work for them, workers from HSS companies do not live in the houses they work at.
A total of 25 companies were selected to participate in the pilot programme, based on their track record and relevant experience in home cleaning or care services, said the Manpower Ministry.
Households can engage these companies to provide basic care services for children above 18 months old and elderly family members.
Under the scheme, these companies are able to employ additional migrant workers and deploy them to perform part-time household services, including assisting children or the elderly with simple personal care tasks.
MOM stated on its website that the services provided under the scheme are intended to cater to households that "intermittently need additional help" with basic child and elder care.
Households that require a higher level of care should approach specialised caregiving companies, such as home nursing or home medical services.
HSS pilot companies must put in place safety measures before they can deploy workers to households, said MOM.
"They must conduct an assessment of households’ care needs, and fully disclose their workers’ relevant experience and qualifications to households."
Additionally, these companies must ensure that their workers providing elder care services have met the training requirements set by the Ministry of Health. These workers must attend training courses or undergo competency assessments if they do not have relevant qualifications.
Households engaging the companies for elder or child care services should also ask the provider for the experience, qualification and training of the worker deployed, as well as access the suitability of the worker for the care needs of the household.
Households are also advised to have a member of the household present to supervise, especially when using the services of the worker for the first time, said MOM.
Currently, there are about 140 HSS companies providing part-time household services to more than 21,000 homes, said Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang.
With the expanded scope, selected companies under the scheme will have additional manpower to offer part-time basic caregiving serivces.
"This will give households more choices for respite care. We hope this will help Singaporeans better balance work and family commitments," said Ms Gan.
"We will monitor the pilot programme, taking into consideration feedback from households and pilot companies, to assess its effectiveness and decide if further adjustments are needed."