Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Maid Issues

We can learn much from this expat, writing about one negative experience with a live-in domestic help, lessons like:
  • Don’t leave your purse/wallet out. Be aware of your cash
  • You are the employer, not their friend
  • Don’t project your cultural values onto them
  • Think long and hard about leaving your maid alone in your home for weeks at a time
Their rude awakening was stumbling across photos of a mostly naked man in their home on the domestic's mobile phone. Fortunately she lived to account for her misdemeanors and be sent home by her employers before the situation really got out of hand.

Filipino maid Rezzilyn's naked body was discovered in one of the "transit rooms" at a Geylang Lorong 22 hotel, next to her Bangladeshi lover, both with fatal slash wounds at throats and arms. Her friends who used to hang out with her before the man came into the picture said she has a husband and three children at home in the Ilocos, Philippines.

We never had to worry about above tips (1) to (4) with Gloria, even loose change left in the jeans pocket will be returned to us without prompting. From day one of her 10+ years with us, she has preferred extra pay rather than a day off on Sunday. When it was time for the home visit, she would request the monetary equivalent of the return airticket and related travel expenses. Her goal is to put aside the pennies for a shop-house when she finally goes home to augment the family finances. Fortunately for her, 47 sqm of living space won't cost $100K at Batangas.

MOM is justifying the mandatory one day off per week move by quoting a tenuous link (based on MOM records and feedback data) between lack of days off and maid's injuries, suicides and runaway cases. We will just have to wait and see if more Rezzilyn-type cases surface. Interestingly, MOM does not forfeit the security bond if the maid violates the work permit conditions by "moonlighting" or getting pregnant. This has to be a pro-business proposition, since the Geylang supply must have been affected by the new foreign worker quotas.


  1. Notwithstanding some 'bad apples', I personally welcome the move that has been long overdue.
    It helps that MOM does not penalize employer if they moonlight or get pregnant. This is the first right step, and put the onus and responsibility onto the maid. Is only fair.
    You must be so blessed to have a good helper for 10+yr. Goes to show mutual respects cut both ways.

  2. So why are there still levy charges for DHW? It gives employers a false sense of 'owning' the rights of the workers. And MOM makes millions out of it. Time they provide more healthy recreational services or training facilities for them.

  3. Only NOW they want to admit it is a 'basic labour right' possibly after Malaysia was forced by Indonesia to be a bit more humane towards their maids.

    Otherwise so malu for Singapore to continue treating maids as slaves especially when our leaders claim if not for them, our mothers & sisters would end up being maids (most likely also without rest day?) in other countries!

    Why make them take so long to realise their basic conscience ?

  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17267746

    Because we are first world country with 3rd world morality and heart ware.
    But I suspect there will be many employers who will try to pay their way out - what is $16 a day to buy off their rest days?
    Lucky Plaza will become luckier plaza now..

  5. How about views from the other side, for a change?
    Me think singaporeans still have long way to go to wean off our dependence. Maybe when workforce start having friendlier and flexi work hour for women, this might just change for the better. This is just the first nip of the weakest link.


  6. This is the side-effect of Singapore being too heavily dependent on foreign maids. All along, I was under the assumption that only those working women get maids, but it's only recently that I realize even stay-home wives or mums also employ maids. Seems that our local women don't like to take care of the household tasks or their capabilities in this area are lesser than women in previous generation.

    I have worked for a while outside Singapore. I realize it can be very lonely when you're working away from home especially on weekends. Male or female foreign workers do feel the same, so if they happen to meet someone who is specially friendly to them, they will seek the comfort of companionship. That's why having too many foreign workers can only bring more social problems to the host country.

    But I see the trend in the number of foreign workers tapering off in the next few years, not because of government policies, but due to various factors. Foreign workers from China will definitely be lesser because domestic economic conditions especially in those relatively less-developed parts of China are improving and there is less need for them to work overseas. As for foreign maids, more and more of them will work in countries who can pay them higher wages such as in Hong Kong and some western countries.

    This will mean inevitably less foreign workers and higher wages no matter how good or bad the economy will be for Singapore in the next few years.

    Local companies and ordinary people will have to get prepared for the reality that cheap sources of foreign workers will be drying up in the next few years. It therefore serves our purposes and interests to think of ways and means to cut down the dependence of foreign workers, rather than us now lamenting their negative aspects or arguing whether we should give them one day rest.

    This Is Now The Time To Bad-Mouth Foreign Workers, But Time To Think How We Can Cut Down Our Dependence On Them!

  7. I agree with calls to limit dependence on maids, particularly for growing up kids. There is a very marked difference between local youths and those from Korea/Taiwan/Japan where most are brought up by mothers/grandparents. Actually just compare to M'sian youths and the difference is very glaring. Time to stop the hand holding.

  8. The dependency of maid's mentality is derived from the government policy of productivity. It would be non productive for a graduate mother to sit around and look after babies. Leave them to the maids and contribute to the workforce, they said. The stage has been set since productivity drive started. Now to ask mothers to stay home become impossible unless their husbands are super rich. How to maintain life style with one salary? Housing loans; school and tuition fees; enrichment programs; holidays; car loans; household expenses???

    It is time the governemnt look back and see what can they do to reverse this situation. Calling people not to rely on domestic help cannot work unless there is sufficient support like grants; rebates etc. Do not just pay civil servants high salary. Take some money and solve the problems mainly created by the on going policies.

  9. //It would be non productive for a graduate mother to sit around and look after babies.//

    Do you realise what is the problem
    with this statement? We have no babies for mothers (graduates/no graduates) to look around anymore. Ironically, it's instant import of both "Babies & Talents".

  10. I look at the front page of ST today with disbelief. Why, and why is there a need to broadcast something that perhaps happened one in a million. Maid being paid $1,200 per month and allowed to drive owner's car as and when she like is not real. Does ST know this will put so much pressure to employers of maids unduly. I see no reason for ST to do that. Its either plain stupid or their is an agenda behind. They better explain why the need to put the news in front page!

  11. Anon Mar 6, 2012 07:02 PM;

    a maid was bequeathed with a few millions not so long ago. So, the ST Report is no big deal.

    Not all maids do only household chores and looking after the young and old. Some do the duty of fulfilling the needs of their masters and 'young Sirs'. If they do a good job, they could be rewarded very generously. There is nothing surprising in Sin, at least not is this report.

    Surprising things on the other hand are seldom reported, they are to be found in the NEW MEDIA.

  12. My cleaner so far never give me any serious problems yet.. Thanks to http://www.housecleanersingapore.com/springcleaningservice.html

  13. While I appreciate the link, I don't want to underplay that I have always been a strong champion of FDW's rights. I applaud the day off law, and wrote MOM in support of it. I am currently outraged that the suggested compensation for the day off is $15sgd, which is less than what we pay either our cleaner or our babysitter per HOUR.

    Also, you are incorrect about the security bond. As of January 2010, the bond is not forfeit if an FDW becomes pregnant, marries a Singaporean or a permanent resident, fails to take 6-monthly medical examination, or engage in any activity detrimental to the security and well-being of Singapore. But these facts remain breaches of work permit conditions for which the Foreign Worker can be repatriated.

  14. Happy to be visiting this blog again, it’s been weeks for me. Well, right here is the article that has some confusion but I must have to say “interesting”!!

  15. Trust issue made a matter in every place, its not only a maid trust, at the end point it totally depend upon how you trust on your maid, If you started doubting on them then it goes to wrong direction. So please take care for some points as this blog is saying and dont make any issues. After all we all are human beings.

  16. hi just like to invite aggrieved maid employers to join newly set up Maid employers association to fight against poor quality maids and the increasing Maid NGOs who has driven down the quality of maids, creating unfair demands and creation of envy against maid employers. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maid-employers-Association/563940100303831#!/content.living.9

  17. Recently i came across wonderful website maids88.com.sg ...this website has huge collection of maids in Singapore. Hope this helps :)