In May 2022, a 46-year-old employer of a migrant domestic worker (MDW) received a four-week imprisonment sentence and was fined S$10,400 after her MDW lost all five fingers on her right hand while using an electric mincer.

It was later discovered that the MDW had been illegally deployed to work for the employer’s business.

If you are an employer of a migrant domestic worker (MDW) in Singapore, it is essential to be aware of certain prohibited tasks that you cannot assign to your helper due to legal restrictions.

What constitutes illegal deployment?

MDWs working in Singapore are only permitted to carry out domestic chores at their employer’s officially registered residential address, as declared to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Employers are strictly prohibited from deploying their MDWs to:

  • Work at any address other than the one registered with MOM.
  • Engage in work at the employer’s business premises, shop, or stall.
  • Assist with the employer’s home-based business activities.

Why is it not allowed to deploy my MDW to perform tasks outside of her domestic duties, even if I pay her salary?

Illegal deployment places the MDW at risk of work-related injuries and subjects her to potential exploitation for non-domestic labor. It may also result in excessive workload, adversely affecting her well-being.

Is it permissible to request my MDW to clean my parent’s house or another residential property occasionally?

No, MDW employers are strictly prohibited from deploying their helpers to clean properties other than the registered residential address, even if those properties belong to the employer.

For example, if an employer illegally deploys their MDW to clean additional addresses, they could face penalties such as fines and may be debarred from hiring an MDW in the future.

I prefer my child or parent to be with a relative when I am away or occupied. Can I ask my MDW to take care of them at the relative’s place?

This is possible, but before proceeding with such an arrangement, it is crucial to inform MOM and follow certain guidelines:

  • Obtain the MDW’s written agreement to take care of the employer’s child or parent at the relative’s house.
  • Ensure that the MDW is not burdened with the full load of housework in both households.
  • Provide suitable accommodation that meets requirements if the MDW needs to stay overnight.

To proceed, employers can notify MOM by submitting an online form.

Can my MDW assist with simple chores at my food stall or shop, such as food preparation or packing items?

No, employing an MDW to work for a business, including tasks similar to domestic duties, is not allowed as it may negatively impact the MDW’s well-being.

If an employer is found to have illegally employed their MDW for business purposes, they may face financial penalties and may be debarred from employing an MDW in the future.

I have a home-based business. Can my MDW assist me since it is within our home?

No, MDWs cannot be tasked with non-domestic duties, even if the tasks are performed within their employer’s residence. This regulation is in place to prevent the MDW from being overworked and to safeguard her well-being.

What if my MDW and I mutually agree for her to be compensated for these extra tasks?

Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, MDWs are only permitted to perform domestic tasks at the residential address officially registered with MOM. Employers must ensure that any deployment of MDWs complies with the law.

What are the consequences if I illegally deploy my MDW?

MOM takes a stringent approach to illegal deployment. Employers found guilty of this offense may face financial penalties of up to S$10,000 for each charge and could be debarred from employing an MDW in the future. Over the past three years, approximately 400 employers have faced consequences for such violations.

If I suspect that an MDW is being illegally deployed, what should I do?

Members of the public who become aware of illegal deployment of MDWs or other employment infringements should report it via the MOM helpline for MDWs at 1800-339-5505.

For more information on the responsibilities of MDW employers, please refer to the MOM website.


If you have any company-related queries, you may email us at [email protected]. When in doubt, seek legal advice or consult an experienced licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower.

Yours Sincerely,
The editorial team at Singapore Employment Agency

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Little Big Employment Agency Pte Ltd is a licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower with license number 19C9790.