I am very, very happy that a weekly day off for foreign domestic workers will finally be legislated. It is somewhat sad that such a fundamental bit of regulation took as long as it did. I recall being shocked when I discovered that a day off was not mandatory, that NGOs such as HOME and TWC2 actually had to lobby for a change in the laws. I was fortunate to grow up with an FDW in the household until 2004. Even more fortunately, I had parents who understood fully the importance of respect and love for all people, whether richer or poorer, superior or subordinate, and insisted I grew up the same. All our FDWs enjoyed weekly days off and sometimes weekends off and were generally free to leave the household for personal errands at any time.
But it is important to look forward now that changes are being made. There are details that have to be ironed out. How long is a day off? I imagine some employers letting their FDWs out for a few hours each week.
In the long run, the entire “domestic worker” mindset and structure must change. The idea that an FDW is entirely the responsibility of the employer cannot continue. It is sustained by rules such as the security guarantee that is forfeited when an FDW is repatriated for pregnancy or for absconding. FDWs are adults who can and should take responsibility for their own actions. Ideally, FDWs would eventually be seen as independent workers who happen to be lodged with their employers. They would enjoy public holidays, annual leave and other formal benefits. If they commit some work permit violation or other, then they simply bear the consequences on their own account.