A day off

Off day- the favourite day of a domestic worker?

The off day can be the favourite day for a domestic worker. It is her time to go out, to meet friends and enjoy herself. But many domestic workers experience different problems with their off days as well. Some might have just one a month, some have to do work this day, some might not even have one. Here are some women staying at the shelter sharing their experiences with the off days.


When I stayed at my last employer, I had one off day from work every month. In the mornings I normally woke up at 5.15am and I went to bed at 11pm, so when it was the end of the month, I felt excited. Soon I could have my rest day. I felt tired during the work days, I had no time to rest. I was supposed to have one off day every week, but the employer just gave me one per month.

All us domestic workers are waiting for Sunday, the off day. I woke up Sunday morning, cleaned the house, made breakfast and waited for my employer to wake up. Because before I could leave, my mam always checked my bag, my pants and my jacket. When she let me out of the house, she always told me:

“You must come back before 5.30, and be back on time.”

When I came out of my employer’s house I felt so fresh and like a butterfly. I felt sick of my work, no time to stop, no time to rest, and now I could go out! I was very happy. I could eat what I want, even rice and chili. I was sick of the food I had at my employer’s house. All the time noodles and sausage, noodles and sausage.

The first place I went on my off day, was to Paya Lebar to send money home. It always takes a long time to queue, sometimes from 11 until 1 or 1.30.

After I sent the money I went out to find another place where there is not so much people. Paya Lebar is a place where all Indonesian domestic workers come. I could see many people there, from a lot of different countries. I had only one friend, a girl who worked for a neighbour, near my employer. We bought newspapers, some clothes, sometimes our food. We sat down under a tree and I enjoyed my off day. I felt that I could finally rest.


As I experienced the off day, I was always rushing. Before my off day, I would always plan where I should go and who I should meet. But before I went I had to do some work, I had to take care of the children, to feed them, shower them even if it is my off day.

Then finally at 10 in the morning I was off. I was rushing. I only had 9 hours to enjoy, to meet friends, to take pictures. If I had my salary, I first needed to send money to my home country. Off days for others is a very happy day, but for me I wanted to go by myself sometimes, to rest, to find a quiet place where I could reminiscence.

Sometimes, when I didn’t have enough money, I would stay in the house on my off day to work, although it was very tiring.

Sometimes on my off days I was scared as well. Outside the house, you don’t know who you can trust. I sometimes went to parties, but I didn’t stay long

When I came back from the off day, there was always some work to be done.



I used to feel so happy when I had my off day. Then I could relax and meet my friends. We would go to the East Coast Park to see the sea. I could go to the library to read a book. I could also eat some food that was different from the food I had at home. My mind felt refreshed, because I could see many places that I hadn’t seen before. If I had a problem, I could meet my friends and share my feelings. After that my heart would feel happy.

Then, with my new employer, I never had an off day. I just worked there for 4 months, but she never gave me a day off. I felt tired and bored, every day doing the same thing, just work and work. The mam was always scolding me. In the end I ran away.



The first six months in my employer’s house, I couldn’t take a day off because I had to finish my salary deduction. After six months, they allowed me to take one day off every month. Before I left the house, I had to do some chores, like cleaning the living room.

I left the house at 8 am and I needed to back at 7pm.

In the morning, I went to church to attend mass. After that I went to remittance to send money home. Then I met my cousins and my friends. We had long conversations to share with each other everything that had happened until the day finished, and it was time to go back.

When I reached my employer’s house, it was time to do some house chores again, before going to bed.



The off day is a happy day because I meet new friends, see many beautiful places outside. I feel free and relaxed from all the stress inside the house. I go to church to pray that all my wishes for my family is granted, especially for my loving son.


5 thoughts on “A day off”

  1. For me day off is ur choice wether u need extra money or rest from d household chores.like in my case,my employer allowed me on my choosen time of off but no so early coz i have works too to b done before i went out.but for me i do it w/ happy and contented coz they treat me well.i feel pity for some fdw that d employer dont have consideration.i know some.dats y i say this.for me its an open talk for d employer is better.as an fdw try to open ur heart to ur boss and say what u want maybe some can understand..dont just sit and keep quiet..

  2. Even though when we came here some helpers are agree to sign no off day or one off day on their contract but when started to work we just realised that years like in prison like me I only have one pack of bread for one week breakfast,lunch,dinner instant noodles 3 story house non-stop cleaning from 5am until 11pm I always cried and pray I experience no food the whole day until the day I got a chance to Call my agency

  3. off day for me is going to a new environment and relax..it was a very xcitement feelings coz i have only once a month off day that i dont understand coz this was the day i go only to church and pray.. after that i send money eventhough is not enough coz my maam kip the others to buy my ticket coz i like to go home soon… i leave the house at 9 and back at 2pm…to do the household choire… it was so tiring but i do sacrifice myself to work…. im not happy but im still hoping and praying that my maam buy me ticket and send me back home soon…this was an embarrasing experience to work in far places… for my fellow fdw… workhard and keep your faith alive… godbless

  4. i used to work in singapore and in the first 6mths no off but my employer always take me where ever they go and i eat with them….then i have my off day once a month !! i worked with them for 8 yrs then i left to another country Italy .. Amd italy is best every week off days . everytime it’s holiday if your working you get paid! But singapore is really not good i mean the law and the some employers are really bad!! They make the maid like a slave☹️☹️ i Pray that they don’t get Karma !!!

  5. I understand their plight. Many employers treat their maids as virtual slaves. It is bad for their spirit. I think the off day must be made legally compulsory.

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