Thursday, 25 September 2008

Employers of domestic workers need to unite

Maternity Perks for Maids!? You must be kidding!

"The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (Home) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) have urged the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to ensure that domestic workers get “full and equal protection” under the Employment Act.

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These would include a minimum salary, hours of work, rest days, paid annual leave and sick leave as well as maternity protection and benefits. There are 180,000 domestic workers here, most of whom are women.
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Asked if domestic helpers should be allowed to give birth here, Home’s executive director Jolovan Wham told Today: “We don’t have a view on that yet. But we are suggesting that they be given the 12-week maternity leave currently available to either deliver their babies here or back in their home country.”
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Work permit and security bond conditions prohibit female work permit holders, including maids, from getting pregnant.
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Another reason to bring domestic workers under the Employment Act: An employer would not be able to terminate her without the required notice period or payment in lieu of notice, or sack her immediately without the due process of an inquiry, said Home and TWC2.
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The two groups also argued that the current standard contract agreed by the accreditation bodies, CaseTrust and the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore), does not provide for paid sick leave, annual leave and public holidays. Nor does it specify expected work hours and payment for overtime work. These should be brought in line with current labour legislation, they argued.
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The submission is part of a broader feedback to the MOM, which is reviewing the Employment Act. The MOM has expressed the need to “take a balanced approach between employment protection for workers and maintaining Singapore’s labour market flexibility and competitiveness” in updating the Act, which covers about 1.4 million workers. It was last reviewed in 1995.
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The NGOs, in supporting the MOM initiative, said the proposed amendments to the Act should also reflect the interests of migrant workers, who form a significant proportion of low wage workers in Singapore. There are about 600,000 work permit holders here (excluding domestic workers)."



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A foreign worker after reading my blog posts on my maids who cheated, stole, lied, have sex with construction workers, said I just want to treat them like slaves by not allowing them to have boyfriends.

Self righteous and selfish folks not at the centre of the issue but just comment because it is easy to position and write from a high moral stand point and criticize us.

Maids are human beings too. I treated my maids well and I'm pissed off by what they did to repay me.

Their main responsibility is to look after my kids; make sure they have clean uniform and clothes to wear, prepare their meals. My kids clean their own rooms, wash their own toilets and school shoes.

My maids don't have to wash the windows nor my car. They can choose to clean my house only when it's dirty, no need to sweep and mop everyday.

Every maid finished cooking dinner at 6.30 pm and every evening, they sit down to watch the 7pm Chinese TV drama with my kids until 10pm. No work done during these hours.

One maid have so much time, she read (my kids and I taught our maids to read and write English)every novel in my library. She added prawns, squids and chicken to her noodles and fried rice while my kids' noodles and fried rice have only chicken and egg. She cooked herself fried Cod fish or Salmon for her lunch whenever my kids couldn't come home for lunch due to CCA. She loved watching TV and singing karaoke. She got to enjoy my home theatre and 52" TV.

Another maid stole my food and cooked it for her fellow maids during their weekly parties. She stole my son's MRT card, my watch, money and food. She wore my clothes, put on my make-up and took pictures of herself in my bedroom with her handphone. She had numerous boyfriends. When my hubby and I were overseas, my kids said her boyfriends or herself would call one another and yakked until midnight. She even secretly went out to meet her friends when I was abroad. She would chat for hours on the phone with other maids in the morning, not doing cleaning for several days.

Third Sri Lanka maid often made my 5 yr-old son walked a kilometre in the hot noon sun to make phone calls to her boyfriends. She picked him up after his kindergarten class and walked that distance so neighbours wouldn't see her and tell me. My young son was bribed with ice-creams. She has her Sundays off and would scoot off very early before 7 am before I woke up and return at 7pm. She gave my phone number to Bangladeshi workers and I found myself becoming her receptionist when I was on sick leave for 3 days.

4th maid stole S$3000 from my elderly mother-in-law who had wrapped it in newspapers and hid it behind her mirror for years. The maid did the cleaning weekly and one day stole it. She remitted it home, we found the receipt. We didn't send her to the police after she begged us not to.

The 5th maid was a Christian, after a year of working with us, she requested to attend church on Sunday afternoons. We found a church where Indonesian service was conducted and sent her weekly until she said she could go on her own. She was supposed to come home after church before 6pm so we could have dinner with my in-laws but then each Sunday, her coming home got later and later. She was the one I caught with the foreigner worker. She didn't attend church, she went to have fun at motels with her lover.

When I go out for outings to places of interest or dinner with my kids, I brought them along. They get to eat what we ate. Japanese sashimi, sharks fin soup, burgers, steaks...

I changed 7 maids... the longest worked 4 years, shortest 9 months.

Is it so much to ask that they be responsible and look after my kids while I work my ass off to pay bills and her salary!? I don't get to enjoy my house and luxury items. The maids did.

The foreigner worker wrote :
"...In addition, maids interviewed by Human Rights Watch have experienced forced confinement and restricted communication..."


"..Singaporeans may be enjoying sufficient wealth to employ maids, yet, they do not understand that maids have basic needs too. Singaporean society, as a whole, has yet to achieve the necessary maturity, freedom and platform to fully conceptualize the notion of human rights..."

"..Singapore may have a less tarnished human rights record when compared to some of its South East Asian counterparts such as Cambodia, Thailand and East Timor. But it is important to note some behavior of employers in Singapore brink on slavery, which is a crime against humanity.."

"..Similar cases have surfaced in Taiwan and Hong Kong as well. However, in a country in which an individual’s rights and freedom of speech and assembly are respected, the maids have a louder voice than their counterparts in Singapore. Maids in Hong Kong have recently taken to the streets to march in protest against unfair changes in labor policies, a luxury which even Singapore citizens themselves are unable to enjoy..."

There are employers who abuse their maids, there are employers who are abused by their maids. There are two sides to a coin.

Educated people like you and those who think they are so righteous and holy fighting for the foreign workers, you don't use your brains do you? You only see one side of the story.

To protest is a luxury Singaporeans are unable to enjoy!? Thank God! Singaporeans don't need this luxury. Singaporeans are wise enough to know that protests will do more harm than good to our country's economy and stability. We are reasonable people.

People like you are dangerous and do nothing good to society. And it's no wonder, you are a foreign worker in Singapore .....

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17 comments:

LadyJava said...

My relatives had had bad experiences with their foreign maids as well.. there are those that come empty handed and leaves with multiple bags.

They steal, they lie, they even bring back sex partners home when the employers are not home.. These maids need to realise that they are here providing a service.. they are here to work... if they want to lead the free life, then go home and starve.. or perhaps they can earn from all the sex they are getting here...

I'm simply too angry for words..I think there are more maids abusing their employers then the other way round amd worst.. the employer don't even know it..

And what's this about maternity leave for them? Are they NOT supposed to be pregnant in the first place.. Isn't that the term of their employment.. why should we pay for their leave?? Aiyoo.. Singaporeans too kind!!

EastCoastLife said...

ladyjava,
Almost every employer of domestic workers in Singapore have problems with their maids.

Singaporean employers are the most generous within Asia. They should hear how the maids are treated in Indonesia and the Philippines.

There are only a few black sheep employers, no need to penalise all employers.

What are employers going to do when maids go on 12 week maternity leave? Who's going to look after the kids and elderly? It's back to square one, right?

The so called social workers for foreigner workers are not helping them, they are creating more problems for the workers and employers.

If the 180,000 employers unite to protect themselves, these 'holy' critics would have no causes to campaign.

We are finding alternative ways to solve the helper problem, we hope not to rely on maids in future, they can go work in other countries.

LEon said...

Want labour leave and fix working hours? As long as the employer DO NOT have to provide home to stay and meals to them. Forget about transport claim as well. Just treat them like reg employee in the reg company. Maybe can give them CPF too if they can be treat like reg employee.

Lanie said...

my sister was abuse by her singaporean employer by not feeding her enough and cleaning her employer house and their mother as well, plus 2 retarded children to take good care and only feed her 1 cup of porridge in the morning and eat lunch just small amount of noodles and 1 cup rice and she sleep in the cement floor. She has to wake up at 4am and sleep at 1am. Is that human? Why not treated their maid like a family so they could take care their children well and they don't even pay enough. Doesn't means working as a maid in other country it because they're starve in our country. I think it's a mistake because most of them are in college degree and educated well.. it's just happened our country is poor and not a lot of job for everyone that's why people go abroad to work as domestic helper. Maid should have freedoom or day off every Sunday.
I almost called the POEE to report the agency who hired my sister and report my sister employer because they want to let my sister go home even I paid them the amount of my sister owe from the agency plus I pay her plane ticket to go home. Not all singaorean people is nice to their maid.

EastCoastLife said...

leon,
Since maids are protected under the Employment Act, they should be treated as regular employees too.

I agree with the not providing accommodation, toiletries, transport and food for them.

When you ask for too much, something is bound to give.

EastCoastLife said...

lanie,
Your sister's case is a sad one. I agree there are black sheep in employers and so are there in maids.

As a human being, we should at least have a heart (conscience) in what we are doing.

Employers pay a domestic worker to take care of their kids or the elderly and/or to do household chores. The employers have to treat their maid as a member of their family.

Vice versa for the maid. They are paid to do a job, it's not that they are doing it for free. So they should do their job well and not go around gossiping, stealing food from their employers to have parties, work only when employers are around, invite boyfriends to employers' house.....

Maid agencies are another irresponsible and not credible lot. They would do anything for profit.

For employers and maids, nobody stands to win if they are not willing to help and understand one another.

I have no problem giving my maid off if she is going to behave responsibly. All maids know their employers would have their S$5000 bond forfeited if they are pregnant or gone missing.

Bonnie.com said...

I am shock to read about this latest news on giving maid maternity leave. Whose crazy idea ? Maid came here to work yet most times they give more trouble than help. Yes if you have those few good ones who work hard but majority came with the intention to have good time and we have to give them MaTERNITY LEAVE ? than who gonna do my WORK !!!. If they are pregnant can they WORK !! In the first place if i can do the house work myself and work and take care of my mom who has dementia I DO NOT WANTS A MAID !!!.
They are nothing but troublemaker. Yes i do agree there are some good ones and don we treat them like our family members ? they are given food, lodging and ample rest. My maid stop works at 8pm and watch tv till 10.30 than off to bed till 6.30am. Isnt that sufficient rest for them ? when we go outing, she follows. What we eat she eats. Than they still wants off day ? I think i need the rest day more than my maid. Who gonna help me when i work so hard to put bread n butter on the table and yet have to give my maid off day ? Now someone suggested maternity leave ? That almost gave me a heart attack. They are here to work and not here to find partners. if they wants to find partner they can leave after their 2 years contract. Some even kill each other over their boyfriends.
Otherwise go to Batam to sell their services. This way they have a choice. They sign the contract with a open mind. Nobody force them. So there's no reason why employer have to be penalise. First was medical now is maternity next what ? Is this our country or are we foreign worker country ?

Grandy said...

Wow!! Sounds like some had definitely taken advantage of you. Bummer.

Hey, it hasn't been that long since I've come by has it? You have a new look. I like it. I had to do a doulbe take though. ;)

EastCoastLife said...

Bonnie.com
Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (Home) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) - set up by foreign workers who demand higher wages and employee benefits for their kind.

Employers of foreign workers should get together and form an association to look after our rights too. We shouldn't be held ransom by the Government and foreign workers.

EastCoastLife said...

Hi grandy,
Meet my other blog. :)

SheR. said...

Hey ECL,
My cousin has hired a maid recently after she had her second child. Unfortunately, the lady decided to flee from her 10th storey flat 2 days after arrival. She climbed out of the flat while my cousin took her two babies to hospital and locked the maid in. The woman fell and broke her leg. Now my cousin is being sued for mistreatment ????!!! And banned from hiring another maid ever again????

EastCoastLife said...

sher,
Oh dear! Your poor cousin. But she shouldn't have locked the maid in the house.

I don't know why maids don't tell their employers or agent when they don't like working for the family. Why so silly as to jump from the window?

Employers do listen and if you are not happy, we cannot force you to stay and I don't want a sour face maid at home too.

Lanie said...

Eastcoastlife- it is sad for my sister and she even tell us the a lot of Filipina is sick in the agency working like slave without enough food. She even left them a money to buy medicine because the agency they're keeping with is don't have a heart to take good care of them and even sleep in the floor without mosquito net. I hate to heared and says in our neighbor in Malaysia that my friends has been keeping home don't have day off. I also experience working with family with 2 children before I got married, but my employer is treated me like a family and in return I take good care of their children treat them as my siblings as well and my employer and even teach the kids it's like a private tutor. So if the employer treat their maids like a family of course the maids will also treat them like a family as well. I know a lot of my fellow Filipina who works domestic helper and most of them are lucky, but most of them not lucky, other their was rape by their employer and even charge them stealing which in not all true. The employers think working as a maids in foreign country are starve in our country, but they're mistaken because most of us are well educated and has a degree. It's just happened that our country don't have enough job, thats why our people in country go work in abroad as a domestic helper because that's the only way they can earn from working abroad and easy to get a job abroad. I also knows maids, luck by their employer in 7 floor without enough food of course to save their life, they're trying to escape from their employer. I hate to say the most agency only help the maid when they're still have owe for placement fee. I know agency doing that until now. Maybe not this time anymore, but someone reported them in POEE in the Philippines which is good so they learned.
I'm glad you treat your maid like a family.

Audrey said...

I have bad experience with my 1st maid... she doesn't steal and was very honest... but doesn't know how to clean the house and look after my kids.

Subsequently even accused my mom of forgetful, forgotten the instructions that was given to her when we confronted her of why she does things in the wrong ways.

Now i'm waiting for my 2nd maid, Indonesian, to come.... keeping my fingers cross.

eunice said...

I like your views in this post and I fully agreed with you, though I don't have a maid, but my in-laws who live in Malaysia experienced a few bad ones - runaway maids who stole their things.

You can write so well! You know I am getting late for my appointment but I read the full length! Thanks for sharing!

Kok said...

ECL,
Now I don't want to work in bunny suit liao. Can I apply for a position as your maid? hahaha!

lost said...

I too had bad experiences with my foreign maids as well. I employ maid solely to do house work and simply cooking.

My new maid (mother of 3 children aged 12, 7 & 5) just arrived 3 days b4 CNY and I called her a few times to interview her. Upon, choosing her, I called her again and advised her to bring more t-shirts and 3/4's pants over.

When we reached home 8pm, I introduced her to my family, let her settle down and ask her to call home using my own calling card for her to relay to her family that she is safe & sound. I don't know whether I did the right thing. By being able to talk to her family, she was very happy and grateful. I brought her to her room, showed her the drawers where she could put her clothes. I asked her what clothes she had brought over, she brought jackets (goodness 5 in all) cos it was freezing, therefore, she had only bought about 3 t-shirts over. Doubting that it would be sufficient, I gave her 3 brand new tops and I laid down my rules to her. No short shorts and transparent clothes cos we have men at home and that she have to wear bra at all times. and she replied "oh, yes, maam, yes, maam. I always do so. I always wear it.

Soon after, she sat down and had dinner with me. After my mum had put my 2 sons to bed, I taught her how to wash and sterilize their milk bottles (4 in all) I did 3 and she did 1. Informed her that it has to be clean my way cos the living standards are different. After that, she had her bath and my mum & sis taught her how to hand her laundry out, which she did so quite well.

Day 2
Back to my own house in the evening as I stay with my mum who looks after my children. Busy settling down at 1130 pm. Brought sufficient bread over, told her that this whole loaf will last you over the 3 mornings and help yourself to 2 packets of coffee or tea aday (showed her what 2 means)

Brought her to her room and showed her the cupboard to use and told her to settle down after I showed her how to hang the laundry out as it was a different way.

Went to the kitchen to wash the children's bottle, found the maid bathing. But smelt "food", so I went hunting. As the maid's room is connected to the kitchen, I walked in and found that maid had helped herself to my milo and left it in the middle of the room. So waited her her to finish her shower in the kitchen. When she was out, I talked to her and on the pretext of asking her whether she has settled down, I walked out of the kitchen, to the living room and into her room by the main door and she through the back door. To my astonishment, the drink was gone! I was staring so hard at that particular place but also at the same time talking to her. Did I get a magician? Maybe, she felt so guilty, when she saw my expression. she took out the cup of milo that she had cleverly hid in a corner, out of my sight.
She apologized for making the drink w/o my permission as she was hungry and thought that I was sleeping.

Day 3, night
9pm, asked her to wash the children's milk bottles. She came out of her room wearing a white top and adjusting her bra. Told her not nice to do so and reinforced that she has to wear her bra at all times. As b4, she replied, yes maam, I wear my bra at all times and that told me that she has just put it on. Which is a quite ridiculous that she puts on her clothes but not her bra and that she have to change her bra in the room w/o the door closed?

Day 4
CNY celebration. Most of our relatives too have maids so they started gossiping. . . 4 maids in all (including mine, but only 1 has off day)
after the celebration which was closed to midnight, my maid requested for her to have her mobile phone and once again apologized to me as she had kept it from me that her cousin had given her a "sim card" for calling back to her hometown but she wanted it only to text her husband and children.
I told her not every time I have to accede her request. I told her since she misses her family so much, she can do so the next day, immediately she knelt down and held on to my legs telling me that she is so happy. I, told her to get up quickly and to remind me tomorrow.

Day 5
We went back to my mum's home at 10 am. Asked her to clean the house when we were out and told taught her to use the stove (just in case, she didn't know how) and cos my sis had opened the windows and before leaving I did my rounds to check before leaving her at home.

Back at 3pm, she came out quickly and apologized to me so I ask her when she had done. She said that she broke the window grills lock! How could it be that the lock's handle be so fragile that it can be so easily broken. Tried to close the window was her answer. Can't she see that there is a difference between a grill and a window. And in actual fact, 2 grill lock handles were broken. 1 in the living room and the other in her bedroom but claim that she had only broken 1 and that since Thursday night it was already broken.

Requested her mobile phone from me. Asking me whether she could text her children. Instead, texted and called her cousin who is working in Singapore. (which my sis overheard her talking) I wasn't able to hear as I was preparing my children for bed.

After they have gone to bed, my sis asked me whether I had given my maid permission to make a call which I replied "no". I asked my maid whom she had spoken too, which she told me that when she texted her husband at 915 pm, her husband did not reply, therefore she had texted her cousin and told her cousin back in her hometown that she is doing fine so that she can convey the message to her family.

I think my maid treats me like an idiot. If she is really so worried that her husband did not reply, couldn't she just give him a call since she has his #?
I told her that she is not being honest at all. Telling and doing different things means being dishonest.

Within half hour, I wanted to ask her something, so I asked her to come out of the room. There again, she did not wear her bra!

That was the last straw! I raised my voice at her and again she apologized and kept telling me that she needed a job. Who doesn't? I do too or else what will happen to my children? But I don't promise something and do a totally different thing.

Can anybody advise what I should do?

Only 5 days and this maid is lying and stealing. I have been giving her chances but where is the limit? Employers who changed too many maids will be blacklisted. But how does MOM weigh who's fault is it?

What if she really steals my things, what should I do? Would MOM be on our side or theirs?

MOM should ASSIST in screening their thoughts and emotions to deem whether they are fit to work for us.

BTW, when writing this comment in my sis room, my maid suddenly called out to me and standing outside the non lit walkway, both of us got quite a shock to see a long messy hair person who just wanted to ask permission to use the toilet.

I had other maids in the past, all came skinny and within 2 or 3 months, they have added quite abit of weight. Therefore, I can safely say that I do take care of my maids well being.

Who doesn't want to be treated well by others? All of us do, don't we?

If I want to find 1 of my previous maid would MOM help me find her?