You’ve just brought a total stranger into your home. For the next 1-2 years, she will work for you, operate your household appliances, cook your meals, and look after your family. However, she is likely to be from a foreign culture, practise a different religion, and speak a different native language. Sounds like a scenario ripe with potential for strained relationship, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what happens when you hire a foreign domestic worker/helper (FDW). Luckily, there are simple things you can do to build a good employer-employee relationship with her, even if it isn’t a match “maid” in heaven from the start.
1. Know your obligations as an employer
The basic foundation for a harmonious relationship with your foreign domestic helper is to ensure that you know your obligations as an employer. This includes providing suitable accommodation, and setting reasonable working hours with a weekly rest day, or, if she chooses to forgo her rest days, adequately compensating her for it. Of course, the monthly salary should also be paid on time.
#TiqOurWord Besides encouraging a work environment that is safe, fair and productive, employers are also responsible for the welfare of your domestic helper, and you should get adequate insurance coverage for her. ePROTECT maid by Etiqa protects FDW with coverage for personal accident, hospitalisation and surgical expenses, and repatriation expenses in case of unfortunate events. In addition, employers can avoid potential costs and expenses such as termination and re-hiring expenses, and wages and levy reimbursement.
2. Set clear (and reasonable) expectations on tasks
In the corporate world, people create work plans and set targets. These align people in the company and bring them onto the same page. Similarly, it is a good practice to set clear expectations for your domestic helper. To avoid ambiguity, you can draw up a timetable, or else simply create a list of tasks to be carried out each day and allow your maid to plan her own timetable.
When setting expectation and tasks, bear in mind that some maids may not be familiar with modern household appliances (some smart home appliances can be intimidating with their featured-packed symbols!). Some first-timer FDWs might not even have stayed in a high-rise flat before. So do be patient, and give them time to learn and adapt. Bear in mind the old saying. “Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” Well, if you guide your domestic helper well, you and your household members will be well taken care of!
3. Communicate constantly and let her feel included
Proper communication is key to building trust and a healthy relationship, which is important since your domestic helper will be staying together with you and your family. It’d also be good to let her feel included by sharing with her our local culture, norms and what’s happening at home and beyond.
In recent times, it has been found that FDWs make up the bulk of foreigners in Singapore who take loans from licensed and unlicensed moneylenders, leading to many maids in debt. If these FDWs have a better idea of what a loan entails, they might be able to avoid getting into such situations. In such cases, ignorance is not bliss!
4. Be as understanding and appreciative as possible
Treating your domestic helper with kindness and understanding is also key to fostering a great employer-employee relationship. She will be appreciative when she sees that you care about her welfare, which will help her to be even more dedicated to her work.
#TiqOurWord Your domestic helper has left her home and family to make a living overseas. When you protect her with maid insurance, you are by extension protecting her family as well. Knowing that you have chosen a good maid insurance plan for her goes a long way. Check out our latest promotion for discounts on the ePROTECT maid insurance plan.
Setting the record straight
Many of us have probably forgotten or are unaware of the history of maids but it may do good to know that domestic help used to be a common household service such that in the Victorian era (mid – late 19th century) it was the second largest category of employment in England and Wales!
Then, technology advancements and changing society’s values that see women entering the workforce created a shift in roles… … but hey! Somebody still needs to wash those clothes! Cooking, laundry, cleaning and childcare are indispensable household chores for everyone, unless you hire domestic help. It is a legit profession, and domestic helpers should be treated equally and with respect for the work that they do.
The word ‘maid’ comes from the word ‘maiden’, which generally refers to a girl or unmarried young woman. Considering the mixed demographics of foreign domestic workers (FDW) in Singapore, it may not always be right to call them ‘maid’!
This article first appeared on Etiqa website on 9 March 2018. All information is correct as at the date of publication. This content is for reference only.