Maids Off Days...oh boy...here goes.
I read with a heavy heart on the news in TODAY newspaper for mandatory weekly off days for maids starting next year.
This is my story...
We employed our first helper in year 2009 when I returned back to the workforce after having my second child. She was an inexperience helper but rather smart, took instructions well, very loving to the children and we treated her like our family. Her salary was SGD$330 before the SGD$170 government levy and I would still pay her $350 a month to motivate her further.
After her two years was up, she had to go home to get married, thus we had to pick another helper. Again we picked an inexperience helper thinking we could train her like our first one. But we were wrong. She was terrible in housework, could not handle the kids and made many dangerous mistakes like allowing my kids to play with the hot water flask and dropping my baby girl while carrying her. My happy life suddenly became very miserable, depressing and stressful. After a month with this helper, I decided to opt for an experience helper instead.
The pay for an experience helper this time was a huge jump. The salary was SGD$460 before the SGD$170 government levy. In total I am now paying $630 for a helper to take care of the kids and to do the housework.
As my hubby and me are only middle income earners, we do feel the pinch.
I believe, my helper has an easy time working for me. I care for her-wellbeing, and I do acknowledge that she should be treated nicely. I allow her to rest if she is tired. We share whatever we have in the fridge with her.
She brings my kids to the playground at 6pm daily and I do allow her to mingle with the other helpers despite warning her not to fall for bad influence if any.
When the kids are in school for 4 hours daily, my helper get to use that free time away from the kids to finish her unfinish work such as the ironing and cleaning or to even take a shower.
When the kids come back from school, her job is to prepare their meals, feed the kids and after that put them to nap.
When the kids nap, our helper can nap too if she wants, which I usually close one eye to as long as the house is neat and clean.
At night, I take over the kids and she can finish up any unfinished chores. By 10pm, she is already in the room, reading my religious books at her own leisure till she sleeps.
When I am out during the weekends, my helper can choose to stay at home or to follow me. I have brought my helper to the short overseas trip that our family takes about once a year. I have also brought my helper to the many mosques that I frequent during the weekends or during Islamic festivals.
I allow my helper to write to her family, make short calls using my handphone to her family and never stops her should she needs to send her money back to her family.
I am thankful that I have a hardworking helper to assist me.
But I am deeply concern of this new rule which allows helpers to have mandatory weekly off days.
I am fully aware of the dangers that lurks once helpers start mixing with other helpers during their off days.
While I know, some helpers can only be having good clean fun, I have heard too many horror stories where maids get pregnant with their Bangladesh boyfriends or they are influenced by their friends to steal and fool around instead of truly working for the sake of earning clean money to bring home to their family.
Good and earnest helpers can eventually fall into bad influence due to peer pressure. Good and ernest helpers have gone astray with the persuasion of male foreign workers.
Not only does the helper's family suffer back home when things go wrong, but employers like me who depend on them to look after the kids are also affected greatly as I would have to take leave to arrange for another helper and arrange for temporary childcare for the kids.
The kids would also get affected as they would have already form a bond with the helper but if she needs to be sent back due to misconduct. Trying to build the bond with another new helper can only be a stressful experience for employers like myself.
I applaud the need to look after the domestic helper's interest and I do acknowledge the fact that there are employers who ill treat the helpers with no rest time and no friendly treatment. But I believe, the decision to impose mandatory weekly off days will open up many social problems like opening a can of worms. While many human rights group want to look after the interest and well beings of these domestic helpers, who is looking at the interest of employers? Who will protect us if our helpers go astray and we need to change helpers. Who will ensure that it will be a stress-free experience?
I know this is a sticky issue. While there might be a thousand employers like me who feel the same way, there will also be a thousand human rights activist who will say give the scheme a chance.
Well, hopefully, I don't have to face worse kinds of stress my helper. Being Blur, forgetful and clumsy are things I might be able handle and advise her on, after all nobody is perfect, but I pray, that I wont have to worse problems from the helper cos I might not be able to take the stress.
Takut kan, employ domestic maids? Well sometimes, we just have to Tawakkal and do what we have to
I never believed in helpers, although my parents had one. I always wanted only my parents to take care of the kids. But a time came, where I gave birth to my second child, mum fell sick, some changes too effect, I was left alone with my hubby and kids. That was when I knew that I had to forgo the uncomfortable feeling and try this path.
Its not been an easy road, alot of money waster during the exchange of helpers but helpers do lessen my burdens of doing the housework and if ever I need some time out, there is a person to watch over the kids for awhile so there is always plus and minus.
~ Hmm....Tawakkal....Leave it to GOD, may this journey be easy for us. Insya'Allah ~