Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Here’s how I celebrated it, I got up at 6:30am was on a conference call, went for meetings with my boss, did some more work and finished up about 8. It’s a job I thoroughly enjoy and one that is the reason that getting up early is worth every minute of it. I stand on the shoulders of many great women who paved the way so that I may have dreams and achieve them. One of which is being able to build a career.
So it saddens me to be contemplating this post.
As far as I know, it is the 21st century and slavery has been outlawed so I’m thoroughly shocked about the out cry from the legislation of giving maids a day off. Seriously? We are a developed nation, are we not?
I have never directly employed a housekeeper so I really can’t say what they can possibly get up to on their off days but if they don’t act professionally, can’t you just fire them? You would do that with an employee at work, right? Another thing, if you don’t treat them professionally but like slaves, you are then surprise that they act like slaves and steal from you. There can’t be any reason good enough that doesn’t warrant someone a day off, which could also mean she can stay home and not have you holler for her to do something. Also, if this is how your boss in your office treats you, quit, it doesn’t give you the right to treat someone else like so.
To all the Singaporeans who can’t find in themselves to understand why a human being may need a day off, just imagine if it was your daughter, sister, wife or mother.
‘Nuff said, I can’t talk about this any more. Singaporeans, please, we are truly made of better stuff than this.
11 thoughts on “Post International Women’s Day”
Unfortunately no, you cannot just fire them because you run the risk of the embassy coming after you if the maid hurls all sorts of accusations (true or untrue) at you. So you are obliged to give 21 days notice (and not pay in lieu), during which they could be up to all sorts of nonsense. You got to hire a maid to know what our grouse is on the other side of the fence, unfortunately. 😦
Thanks so much for this Laine!! I’d like to hear more about the employer’s side. I’m going to look more into this. Please share your side too.
I’m all for the off day but let’s say a maid gets pregnant thanks to her off day shenanigans, her employer gets fined by the authorities. So if the government protects employers more, they would not feel so defensive about the off day. There should be laws to protect both sides.
My uncle and his family came home 1 day to find that their maid has disappeared, she left no note, nothing and they had to make a police report. It was very puzzling to them because she seemed like such a nice gentle person so they didn’t know what happened. She was never found. Later they heard from the neighbour’s maid that she had most likely run away because she was pregnant and that while they were away during the day, her lover used to come to the house and get up to goodness knows what! Imagine their shock, and of course my uncle and his wife got into all sorts of problems with MOM. It is no joke when your maid runs away…and sorry to say it isn’t all that rare either…think just forget about a maid lah. My sister gave up already.
I have friends who blast “heartless” employers who don’t give their maids off days, or who give off days once a month as per the contract. Well, the oddest thing that i realised are that these do-gooders don’t hire maids so they really have no idea what they are saying. Of course, it sounds inhumane, one off day a month. BUT the maid signed the contract and agreed to the terms, what are the odds they were held at gunpoint and made to put down their signature? It’s like me now going to tell my boss “Hey look, i was paid to work Mon – Fri but you know what, instead of working 5 days i only want to work 4 days but still expect to be paid for 5 days”. That’s just how it is, my boss will tell me to pretty much F-off, because i agreed to the terms of the contract the day i signed, and i signed it knowingly. At the end of the day, to these do-gooders, don’t blame us for the fact that the maids are born into poverty and need to take up such an “inhumane” job, social stratification exists everywhere, it’s a fact.
There have been so many horror stories! When i was younger and used to go to gran’s house after school, i realise that her postman would only be delivering letters as late as 6+pm! Didn’t take much sleuthing to find out that for a few hours in the afternoon, every afternoon, his motorbike is always parked outside one of the houses along the street. Well, i bet he’s just sitting there resting and having a cup of tea with the maid! A friend’s maid, who has no off day, got pregnant by the postman! Woohoo! And my friend saw his maid and his chauffeur in bed, his parent’s bed! Ugh. Or cases where maids steal from the employers and lie that they didn’t do it, until their things are searched and the items come up. Even messier are those who run off to the agent or embassy, because the embassy is always on their side no matter what. And our Singapore laws now seem to be protecting the maids more than the employers. If the bugger runs off, the employer is at fault. Or those who use their off days to moonlight as hookers……..imagine if they caught some disease and you don’t know and still let them take care of your little ones at home. Tons of horror stories honey, just go ask those who have had maids. We should band together to write books! 🙂
Hey Lainey, I don’t know you but did your grandma use to live in Thomson Green? Our neighbour’s maid was having an affair with the postman, every afternoon us kids would see his scooter parked outside our neighbour’s for hours. We heard he eventually got fired because the other neighbours weren’t getting their mail. Not us though, we always got our mail BEFORE he went next door. hahahahaha
Take my sis, her maid was pretty lazy and the house was dirty but she cut her so much slack because the kids adored her. My sis bought her bday and xmas pressies, gave her a day off every other week and my mum gave her winter clothes to send to her sis working in Taiwan. After all this, she told my sis she found an employer who was paying her $20 more a month, expecting my sis to counter offer but my sis let her go. I know $20 is probably a lot to her but still…..and get this, she stole from a 2 1/2 yr old! They found my nephew’s broken piggy bank under her bed with the money in a plastic bag and she said he left it there. Yah right, a 2 1/2 yr old can reach his piggy bank on the highest shelf in his room, break it and put the money into a plastic bag…..So, no, they don’t steal because they are treated like slaves, it’s sadly not as simple as that…
Nope, it’s not the Thomson Green postman! We were at Bukit Timah and we got our letters AFTER he and the maid had their afternoon tryst. 😦 My aunt’s maid broke a plate, used scotchtape to meticulously stick all the pieces back, put the plate back in the cupboard and when my aunt saw it, denied it was her doing. Who else could it be? It’s not as if my aunt has kids, it’s just her and my uncle and my uncle wouldn’t even open kitchen cabinets.
Thank you both, Mich and Laine for sharing your stories. They gave me yet another perspective.
At the same time your stories made me think because I’ve got very similar ones from corporate offices too. It can be as simple as taking reams of paper for the home printer to buying reasonably big ticket personal items on a corporate budget to yes, even having trysts in the office, on office time. I’ve seen them and heard them 🙂
It TRULY is never that simple and our exchanges have reminded me exactly that. Also, that people are just people, there are good ones and there are bad ones. No matter where we go.
It is true, I have never directly hired a maid but I’ve had to manage 2 that my parents had employed to care for my grandmother when they moved to Australia. Sure, there were countless times that they took an extra hour or two when they went to the market or ran errands but they came home in time to get the job done. There were out of ordinary days when they asked if they could go out with their friends and if I was home or could make arrangements to be home, I didn’t see an issue with it. I managed them the same way with my team at work who honestly go for long lunches when they can and take time off when they need. As long as they deliver on their responsibilities, everything else is inconsequential to me.
Not that I’m a great employer or manager, I’ve just been very fortunate and have not had much problems. At least not anything like what we’ve shared in this exchange anyway :p When it comes to employing someone, it boils down to the luck of the draw and I’ve been lucky on most fronts.
I guess what I wanted to get across with my post on the legislation for a day off is that, I’m surprise with the outcry. I never expected it. I could be a tad idealistic and somewhat naive but I truly never expected the outcry I’ve been reading.
Mandating a day off isn’t going to make bad maids better or good maids bad, neither will it do so with the employers. I had no intention of suggesting so with my post. Let me clarify my point, which is this – we’re living in the 21st century, it seems only right that any employment contract mandates a regular day off, as well as a clause that allows both parties to agree on a compensation for working on that off day.
What happens after the contract is signed comes down to people knowing or not knowing how to be people. For any successful working relationship, both employers and employees have to know how to, as my Mama would say in Teochew， 做人.
Actually, seemingly good maids can turn bad, because they mix with the wrong company on their off days. Saw enough to know this. 😦
Yes, that is the sad truth, which happens to the best and worst of us. Now if we can eradicate the world of wrong company, we’ll be set for world peace 🙂
Hey Carl…..I was absolutely appalled too by the outcry and that we in this 21stC, we, a 1st class nation have to take this long to make off-days a mandatory law. Sorry to hear about yr friends horror stories. Of cus they are real, they happen and when they do, the employers get the brunt of it. But this does not mean that FDWs do not deserve or should not expect a day off! There are horror stories as well as beautiful ones. Like you said Carl, finding a good help is a little bit of everything, luck, fate, some prayers and us employers doing our part.
For me its really simple, I do my utmost to be kind and fair and even treasure their presence and I hope they feel it and reciprocate. And in most cases they surely will. But if in the very unfortunate event that they do not and “repay” us with terrible behaviour, at least my conscious is clear, I did my best and the FDW will have to answer to her Maker. To me, and its just me, there can’t be 2 sides to this, they are human and already they are paid peanuts to work very hard for their families far away. Why can’t we treat them with more respect and dignity?
Thanks Claire 🙂