10 Oct 2015

Expatriate's point of view

All Topics  (content page)
Special Needs Part 1
My 4th filipino FDW (JA)
Who earns lesser than FDWs?
Maids (FDW) in Singapore
Maids (FDWs) finding LOVE in Spore
Activist - fighters for migrant workers


Oct 2015

Expat x9200 --  You took it out of context. It is a wealthy country for the cost of the maid. If it was not the case why there are so many maids around? And how many, maybe you could provide that number?

Please, I am an European living already long time in SG and I am with a kid with no l-in maid and where all the adult members of the family work full time so please reconsider if you want again use the daily chore as an argument. In Europe all the adults working full time and with kids is a standard and often they even don't have a part time maid. Why it is possible there while not on Singapore? Convenience and willingness to accept trade-off with your privacy and again ability to effort.

sundaymorningstaple -- The maid industry was already in full swing when I arrived here 33 years ago. It's not a new thing but it has gotten more widespread among the locals not so much as they really need them but more a case of keeping up with the Lee's much like the "keeping up with the Jones'" in my country. It's also why cars are traded in every couple of years or so, not because the cars are worn out by any means. Depends on the familly size and the face value of the car/maid (or combination of both - maid out washing the merc at 6:30 am EVERY morning but still living in an HDB flat. My wife & I had a maid once when my daughter was an infant because I worked offshore and she was an entertainer so work every night till 2 or 3 in the morning by the time she reached home. Therefore it was necessary to have somebody there (mother couldn't as she also was taking care of a G.Daughter in her home as well. As so as we could we got rid of her and have never had one since (although we are debating on it now as both my wife and her mother are in poor health).

x9200 -- Feels strange because the social architecture of Singapore makes people to compromise on their privacy by placing in their house, a private and intimate space a stranger from another word with the regulations and the level of wages making this person de facto a slave.

There are obviously cases when a help is needed but these are not just based on the simple fact that two parents are working. Must be something more than this and while in many other countries the whole school and service infrastructure supports the working parents in Singapore the same type of infrastructure happily relies on the fact that majority of working people have maids.

earthfriendly -- The widespread existence of full time live-in maids are made possible due to the availability of an underclass willing to work in that profession. The govt being the enabler as they wanted to size up the economy by encouraging women in the work force. After having a taste of the freedom from domestic and parental chores, there are women who prefers to work, rather being a stay home mom. Compared to one generation ago, where there were more stay home moms. The trend changed quite quickly on that one.

In the US, the foreign underclass works in varied jobs e.g. gardeners, bust boys , farming, construction ...... Having a full time live-in is cost prohibitive and there is also cultural issue. Privacy.

I had a discussion about this with hubby. Replacement of pets companionship with human companionship since the previous has less drama and takes less effort. Cultural differences such as preferences for being with other people or a group vs being independent and enjoying your own personal space, peace and privacy. Away from the glaring eyes of another human. 


After having been thru the experiments of having lived-ins, many nowadays have concluded the headaches involved are not worth the trouble. After you come home from a hard days work, do you want to spend your time managing your maid? More are opting out and there is a market for part time housekeepers in SG. However, the housekeeping service industry is going thru developmental stage and is fine-tuning itself.

marc.favroo -- Yeah, I am not buying the necessity argument to be honest - I think the preponderence of live-in maids is driven by low price - I think having a live-in maid in London (for example) is around 4-5 times more expensive in relative terms (e.g. as a percentage of average salary)...I think another huge chunk of the explanation is entirely cultural...people are more used to having a live-in maid...in the UK at least, it is a symbol of poshness (even being spoiled...)..

Strong Eagle -- Live in maids are a lot more expensive than renting a part time maid. You must carry medical and accident insurance. You must pay for one flight home per year. You must offer one day off, provide proper food, drink, and housing. You pay a maid levy of $265 per month plus a maid salary of $500 minimum (and you will have to pay substantially more for an experienced maid).

earthfriendly-- Cheap labor. I have heard this from another Singaporean. Singapore is a Ist world country with 3rd world wages. 


A friend who worked for a major real estate developer had mentioned to me, over a decade ago, their company was actually looking to install dishwashers in residences. However, the configuration of the racks are not useful for Asian dishes (big bowls?) and cutlery. If dishwasher manufacturers do a bit market research, there may be a market there and they can always customized to local needs. Chicken and egg ..... Such a huge untapped markets. Japan, China, Korea, south Asia..... 

x9200-- Any living in maid (liM) is never used for cleaning/ironing only so you just can not compare based on the fact that the ptMs are used for a few hours a week to clean and iron. Besides, they are used only for such limited time because they are relatively expensive (hourly rate). 

Now you may try to do a bit more fair comparison and assume you need somebody to replace a liM by a local workforce for a family with younger kids and only for the time both parents are away for work. You may assume an hourly rate to be anything above S$15. Duration, ~10h* a day at least, 5 days a week. How are your numbers now?  *) Most of the liMs works de facto excess of 16h a day for 6 days a week.

Once again, in US/Europe/other countries both parents work full time and have no maids. Why it is not possible in SG?

 earthfriendly -- I don't see any problem with getting paid domestic help if it is readily available and within one's means. 

In SG, it becomes problematic in cases where they outsource too many responsibilites, become too dependent and not having learn and practice life skills e.g. cooking and cleaning. The problem only arises because of not being able to find that balance. Growing up as a girl in SG, we were fed the notion that we can have it all when we grow up, career + family. In reality, it is quite a juggling act loaded with stress and rushing here and there. Having additional help would be like having a breath of fresh air.


And also, it takes a village. I find the modern lifestyle + nucleaur family unit + suburb living + stay-home-mom combo to be quite an isolationistic way of life, you know. I had those wonderful notions of how fulfilling it would be to be a stay-home-mom, until I experience it myself. My family life today is so different from the family life of my mom (more fulfilling with the support system including part-time helpers and non-paid help from family and friends). Well, such is life. My kids having grown up in a very nice (materially speaking huh!) suburb neighborhood where privacy is #1 probably like it just fine as that's how they have come to know about life. It is a bit different for me as I have lived in several environments / lifestyles with extended time.

sendok -- Actually LiM is not a 'singapore' way of life. Its more these region way of life (Sg,Id,My,Ph,etc)

Mostly because the high number of population and the small number of jobs available.  And its not a recent phenomena too. My family have a LiM ever since I can remember (30ish years ago) and its common for every house on the street to have one.

Actually the first thing I noticed when I moved to SG 10 years ago is how bloody expensive a LiM cost. Back home at most is only around $150 per month. So no wonder lots of people from surrounding countries flock to SG to become maids

sundaymorningstaple -- oddly enough, LiM's as you call them, find Singapore to be the country of last resort when it comes to which countries are the most suitable to work in as they are paid less here and treated worse here than in almost all the other regional countries. Don't believe me? Ask them. The maids who come here are, for the most part, the ones who were not good enough to get positions in the better countries (for a FDW - Not necessarily a better country in other respects though.

bro75 -- There are worse countries for a FDW than Singapore (e.g. all in the middle east). And compared to 10 years ago, the situation for FDW in Sg has improved a little bit. Acts of extreme cruelty and abuse is still there but is rare and is prosecuted by the government. That said, their situation can still be improved by a lot.


LiM's are common across SE Asia and S Asia and some parts of NE Asia. If these are removed by law, then there needs to be a increase in availability of child care centres or a parent will have to stop work. US and Eu families are able to cope with this situation. Probably a mix of government support, family support, and neighbor support (baby sitters).

bgd -- Some interesting observations here.
A couple of mine. 
Most of the FDWs I know like Sg and are well treated. Most, but not all, work for expat families. The few who aren't so keen are generally missing their own children/families and are unhappy with the whole FDW experience, not just Sg.

In general I see children very well treated by FDWs. Dogs, on the other hand, tend to spend most of their 'walk time' sitting while their FDW gossips with friends or uses her phone. One notable exception is the girl I occassionally see swimming with her dog on ECP.

x9200 -- I witnessed some situation where the maids should be prosecuted including one when the maid was walking along the Holland Rd typing on her mobile and "taking care" of a 5yo kid who was riding a bicycle. The kid crossed a busy intersection and she even did not notice. 
When I lived in one condo within that area walking dogs while sitting in the car park was very common. 

"Taking care" of very young children on a playground while sitting, typing and listening to music is a norm in all the condos I lived so far.

RedRidingHood -- If you read the local forums on maids you will find that a lot of Singaporeans prefer not to have a live in maid. There's an entire thread devoted on how they could prepare themselves bit by bit towards the goal of not having a maid soon. Quite a number hiring maids are those with young children and/or old folks who need help. In other countries like Australia (not sure for Europe/UK) you could take longer leave to take care of your young children till they are old enough to be sent to childcare and you can go back to work. There are laws in place making your employer keep your job for you till you go back. Try that here in Singapore? 

movingtospore -- I think a lot of the issue for local families is the working hours here. When you don't leave work until 7, who takes care of the kids after school?
If working hours (and behaviours) could be adjusted so that 1) people actually worked at work, 2) they came in earlier, 3) they didn't take 2 hour lunches, and 4) then, they could leave at 530 - well, that would change things.
I doubt that will happen any time soon, so maids fill the gap.



Sep 2014
Expatriates won't be keen to blend in or accept the practices/culture in Spore because they are staying in Spore for a short time.  Expatriates come here with their nonsense and felt we're in the wrong.  This is not their country but they insisted in bringing in their upbringing and preaching. They insisted on making/moulding Spore look like their country.  It pleased them to bully a small country?  This is obviously showing no basic respect to a country.  

These are two common sightings .... a pain in the necks of expats:
Expat: “Singlish is not a language. It’s just bad English.”
What some may say:  “Wah lau eh [hokkien], cannot meh?  Why you care so much, huh? 
Best answer: “Hahaha, of course it’s not a language! It’s a patois, silly. Oh you don’t know that word? It means ‘a form of a language that is spoken only in a particular area and that is different from the main form of the same language’. We know you don’t understand it and can't be bothered.  You just felt the urge to yell and do something that please you. You are not staying in Spore permanently so it is better to keep your high standards for yourself. Appreciate if you keep your observations and make your short-term stay as part of sightseeing. We don't have to change just because you don't like it or can't try to stand our culture.  We have our way of living and you should accept they are different from your country.  Singlish is a form of blending into a multi-racial country that you are now in.  We don’t have traditional costume but we have a unique way to stand out - a country that speaks Singlish (rojak English).  

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this on 4 Sep 2014 "We are never going to be single-valued, single-cultured Singapore. We are diverse - that is our strength, provided we don't let it tear us apart."
"We are a small country. We used to say we are a sampan, now maybe we are a boat with a motor, self-propelled. The seas are unpredictable. We didn't expect to come this far. In the next 50 years, we hope to go as far. Things can go wrong, and we must be be prepared for that. You must have that steel in you. We have to take the setbacks, and move on, and move on together."
PM Lee said it would have several roles to deal with emerging social tensions. "First, we must hold the ring, so that you play within the rules of the game. Secondly, you must make sure that there is moderation and restraint, because if you go beyond a certain limit, I think in a multiracial, multi-religious society, you are going to have serious tensions and strains and problems.  "Thirdly, you must set the culture in order to moderate strains not just along the traditional fault lines - race and religion but also new fault lines that can come. "

So means we should stick to our culture and stop expatriates/activists from bullying us?

Expat: “Why does everyone have a maid here? Can’t people clean up after themselves?"  "Singaporeans are so pampered!”
What some may say: “Whole world got maid what. Problem, meh?”
Best answer: “It’s actually a lot to do with lack of government support and social welfare. Domestic helpers are usually hired to either care for kids or elderly parents so that there would be dual income to cope with Spore high standard of living. Since most households have both parents working, no one to stay home with the kids and childcare centers operating hours aren't suitable or they are located not within walking distance, what can parents do besides employing a full-time live-in maid?  Daycare centers are inconvenient and not cheaply available like elsewhere in the world. Some families are lucky and have “grandparent daycare” so they can leave kids with grandma and grandpa but most don’t. There’s an aging population so many families are caring for elderly who aren’t well. It’s a huge cultural taboo to put your aged, sick parents in nursing homes and there is neither good healthcare nor suitable assistance from the government, like your country. Often, maids are the only way for people to work and be good parents or filial children. Maids' working hours are flexible and can be decided by the employers who may be doing shift work or work late.  Most childcare centers are closed at 7pm which can be a headache for working parents.  After a hard day of work, working parents still need to take care of household chores, monitor kids, etc which is taxing and tiring.


Was chatting with my expat colleague, L about maids. L asked me ‘Do you know how many maids I have employed so far?’ Based on the market trend, maids want to work for expat and I guess these women will glue to their expat employers … so I said since you’re working in Spore for about a year, I guess you have around 2 maids. L said no, L had 8 FDWs! L had employed Filipinos, Indonesians and now an experienced Myanmese. One of these FDWs ran off to the agency during her first day of work. L couldn’t find their new maid and was worried. They got a ring from the agency and were notified that maid has taken a taxi to the agency. Agency counselled that maid who decided to try working for a while. She couldn’t make it and left.

One of the Filipino FDWs tried to discipline L’s children and was fired. Maids have no rights to discipline or beat employers’ children. Maids are paid to help, not give employers problems or become mistress of the house but modern maids seemed like don’t understand. Many FDWs fought unnecessary and demand things that they are not entitled to or should not have asked for in the first place. Some expats might be very easy going and tolerate your behaviour but that didn’t mean you’re the stand in-parent or mistress of the house. Some thought respecting maid is part of being human and unknowingly placed their loved ones at risk or created a ‘monster in Spore’.

L is planning a one month home leave and asked the current maid whether she wants to travel to Europe with them. Surprisingly, maid said no. I told L, beware what she’ll do in your absence. Whatever trouble she created, eg runaway, sleep around, get AIDS/diseases or get HURT, you’re fully responsible…. although not your fault, though you’re not in Spore, MOM will not let employers off with zero liabilities. One thing for sure, repatriation cost and agency fee +recruitment fee will be gone if she is terminated!

No doubt maid will still get her salary and one month ‘off’ – free and easy with no employers, whole ‘house’ to herself… such benefit may not be appreciated by maid. Don’t know why modern maids become so hard to please and thought these are Entitlement. A lot didn’t realize to earn any reward, she has to put in her heart to work and be recognized for her good efforts. Just because expat tend to take long yearly home leave, it doesn’t mean she is entitled to it ... paid or funded.

L said they will need to have a kopi chat with MOM. MOM is very interested to know why no maid can work long, ie finish a contract with an expat.

This chat has given me the feeling maids are very demanding and resort to cheating, including in expat employment (the most desirable employers). Maids cannot accept the job scope fully but cheated and made employers employ them. Our houses are not playgrounds, why can’t you understand and stop giving employers headaches, especially lying? You deliberately wasted our money and time but not punished by the law or binded by MOM policies. 

Yes, maids have the rights to find your desired employers. 
Yes, you’ve the right to job hop because MOM didn’t restrict your chances to be transferred/re-employed but you shouldn’t use employers’ house as playground or cheat. 
Yes, you are a human, not a slave as part of our 'property', so as a modern FDW full of rights and ego, is this how you treat employers?
Yes, you are lonely but finding boyfriends or satisfying your sexual needs and placed your employers in unfair situations, financial and mental losses or liabilities/responsibilities, is this morally correct?

I have a UK colleague who understands what I'm going through.  She felt it is insane to make employers  fully responsible for their maids.  Why should we be responsible for a maid who is physically not working for us?  She also told me the comparison used by some people are unfair because each country has its own living standards, salary scale and taxation.  She even gave a breakdown of how much a domestic worker earns in UK, the taxation, living costs, etc .... all these deducted from salary = actual savings.  Earning high salary is actually by appearance.  Just like FDW's salary, looked low in appearance because activists don't calculate the living costs which were paid by maid's employer.


================
Read: Expat point of view on transfer maid



Extracted from Expat forum:
Working hours
Mon-Fri: 7am-7pm
Sat: 7am to noon (i.e. she's off at noon)
Sundays: Off

No curfew provided she is ready, rested and able to work in the morning.

I sent these to the maid agency who called me and told me Saturday afternoons off are unacceptable and we need to give them a curfew of 10pm.

She told me the issue is we were responsible for the maid and was concerned they might go out clubbing, work for someone else or get questioned if they are out late by the police who would then open an investigation into us. I'm sure she would have gone on a great deal longer with the list of all the evils the FDW might get up to if I hadn't cut the conversation off.

For us, Saturday afternoon's off is more about quality family time without an extra person around than anything else.

Is employer liability a real issue? My understanding from the Faq on rest days published by MOM (link below) if an FDW violates her work permit conditions, its on her, not the employer (Question 15). Is this not the case in practice?

Also if an FDW for some reasons chooses to stay the night somewhere else on Saturday night, does this violate the requirement they 'live in our home'? Certainly they would not be moving out. If this is a real concern, then I'd be happy to simply stipulate they sleep in our home 7 nights a week.

The agency owner is really pushy over it (to the point of offending me).

All of that aside, the Maid in question is in her mid-40s, spent the last 18 years working for a single family, has a husband and kids and doesn't strike me as the type to get up to mischief. Even if staying out late and clubbing we're her thing on a Saturday night, it really wouldn't concern me a great deal.


Winter:  This expat is indeed trying to do something very different and felt it should be the right way.
Because expat offered leeways/good deals, many maids are dreaming of being employed by expatriates.  On top of that, when expat employers are away for home leave, maid eiither get a free holiday or 2 to 4 weeks home alone time +regular pay +full freedom +acting as house owner, aren't these terms attractive?  

The agent is correct to tell this expat the norms but he felt offended :mad: 
If he and his wife has the time to pay and pay for bad maids (bad conduct and take things for granted), I can only say 'this is what you deserve for 'polluting the FDWs' market' and inflicting pain onto the local employers.  You refused to follow the norms and think your idiotic 'human rights excuse/mentality' is correct.  It is absurd to babysit a maid, don't you get it?  

It is unfair to make employers bear the responsibility of a bad maid, be it she moonlighted, hurt during off days, runaway or has to be repatriated due to violation of work permit (eg pregnant).  The costs to have a bad maid or a FDW wanting to go ...expat felt these are peanuts.


================
22 Apr 2014

Volequeen: Well, well. This is going to make you implode with fury. My Filipino helper receives 950 SG a month. She has all evenings and public holidays off including her birthday. Every Sunday off and can leave on Saturday night. She has her own room and double bed that are her private. I always knock and wait to be answered. Our helper shares our utensils and is welcome to eat from our fridge. She is a grown woman, has a boy friend and talks on her mobile phone whenever she wants. Her day starts at 6.00 on a school day but after taking the children to school she is welcome to go back to sleep until 10.00 because unlike a sadistic and cruel employer I don't think she should do things just because she is being paid. Then our helper works until about 6.30 or 7.00 pm. After she has showered the children then she is free to do as she will. And how does she repay us for this kindness and respect. Well, let me tell you. With honesty, diligence. love, loyalty, compassion and respect, that's how.

Personally, I think most of you above are inhuman and if you lived in Europe you would have been prosecuted and imprisoned for extreme cruelty by now. Singapore doesn't eve have a human rights charter! Four years ago you were tied with Nigeria for Human Right infringements. That is something to be deeply ashamed off. You will never be taken seriously as a first world country until you treat others from different cultures as you would like to be treated.

How do you even look at yourselves in the mirror in the mornings.

You are a disgrace.

Winter: I believe it is your rights to overpay the maid but most local employers felt FDWs DON'T deserve a salary of S$950 and we have not short-changed our FDWs. We are law abiding citizens and all FDWs are well protected by the Ministry of Manpower, at Employers' expenses.

I wonder whether you have looked at the mirror and see how hideous you look. Yes, you've paid your FDW very well, about 1 times more than the usual FDWs. You are making the market to be unbalanced and bringing unnecessary problems to the employers. We've a standard contract to follow, no FDWs were cheated or short-changed. If you have plenty of money to offer your FDW, go ahead but you shouldn't say we're in the wrong or a disgrace. 


You've disgraced yourself by not looking at our costs of living, our salary and sparing a thought for others. You didn't compare apples to apples. I believe you're educated to do proper comparison ... just a matter of whether you want or not.


Every country has different culture and LIVING COSTS. You or spouse's monthly salary could be 10 times of mine, you think this is normal? You felt it is right to make remarks that doesn't fit into our context. Your maid could be eating only 1 to 5% of your salary. It really isn't much if you look in the form of percentage. But if using my salary, it is a a lot of difference! Be an asshole somewhere else. Don't pollute Spore.

btw,read who earns lesser than maids


You're a devil so don't make yourself look like an angel and cause pain to others. We're already suffering in the hands of bad maids and facing lots of unfairness ie MOM's pro-maid policies. 


When you're bitten by your highly paid maid, Iet me know so that I can be joyful or be less jealous... let me know God is fair in some way.



Anonymous: I've never lived in Singapore but live in an African country where it is usual for Europeans to have help in the house. I, like Volequeen above, choose to treat my helper as a human being. I have worked as a housekeeper and know how it feels to be treated as a non person. OK, I have had difficulties where helpers have cheated me and have taken advantage. These are disenfranchised and vulnerable women who are often struggling alone to bring up their chidren. They suffer the kind of poverty and difficulties most Europeans can hardly imagine. For God's sake, yes, keep your valuabe property and your children safe but please consider treating these workers of yours with a little more respect. They are human beings not monsters from outer space. And don't come back at me and say I don't understand your situation. I've read nearly all this blog and I think I've got the general gist of things.

Winter: You posted here for what? Is it a joy to land your feet on others? What you commented showed you didn't read well. I posted with facts and not hearsay.

You didn't live here nor know the locals' living costs and salary. Don't show your wilful and obstinate ignorance ... stop acting like you are a nice person or life saviour. As I always say, only those who have been bullied by bad maids (both mentally and financially) will know the taste. No activist will understand without going thru the ordeal.


We are law abiding citizens and all foreign domestic maids are well protected by the Ministry of Manpower, at Employers' expenses.... even if the maid is a bad worker. If maids are ill-treated and not well taken care of, MOM won't hesitate to fine or punish the employers SEVERELY. Maids don't get punished severely for being bad, including killing somebody vulnerable.... did you open your eyes to read the real facts that took place?




Anonymous:  It would seem from the replies that despite your blog saying FDW employers are free to post comments they are only free to do so if they wish to open themselves up to abuse from complete strangers.. Is that how you want to live your life? You only want FDW employers to post so you can attack them.

Winter: Employers are welcome to post. If anybody ....the nice employers are being attacked here, do you know the reasons why? I'm sure you don't care and unwilling to look at what you've done or what maids/MOM did to cause our anger.

The purpose of this blog is to highlight about bad maids, not a platform to praise maids or send cheers to over generous employers who are keen to offer superb pay package. 


Anonymous:  Your replies are full of sweeping generalisations and not backed up by any provided solid evidence. I feel sorry for you that you live with such hatred and vitriol in your hearts, you must truly be very, very unhappy people to feel the need to be so awful toward someone you have never even met and to pass judgement on someone you don't know. Do you have valid reasons to dislike foreigners, I don't know because you haven't posted any but you seem to want to blame someone/anyone else for your own misery.

Do you know anything about my life, my circumstances, who I am as a person? No. Then who are you to judge and make such statements.

Winter:  Didn't I provide valid reasons? You mean you can't see the solid evidence available in my posts and on the news? 

I certainly don't know you but you appeared as a person who didn't suffer in a maid's hand nor willing to open your eyes. The purpose of this blog is to highlight about bad maids and what the maids did, what agencies and MOM made us go through. It is not a platform to praise maids or send cheers to over generous employers who are keen to offer superb pay packages.



===============
27 Sep - Before I had a helper, I almost never used the iron. Who knew the iron was for more than just waxing your skis? Turns out I like my clothes ironed. I like it a lot. Did I enjoy having someone clean for me every day? You betcha! Did I enjoy having meals ready when I returned from a day of activities with the kids? Absolutely. Did I like it when my clothes got washed in hot water, or my swimsuit got thrown in the dryer, or my banana bread was made with a $20 bottle of olive oil? Not really. Did I like having my appliances broken or my kitchen tools destroyed by someone who didn’t have to pay to replace them? Nope, that wasn’t my favorite thing either.

I LOVED the luxury of having a live in maid. Here it is an unobtainable luxury for most of us, though, because you can’t have a live in maid in the USA for $550-650 a month. That ship has sailed. Until I am back in Asia, though, I will take my lessons from my helper.

Above are the views of an expatriate who has left Spore. Below are expat's belief:

Belief 1: The space (room size) a maid has is about the size of a closet
Is our HDB space bigger than a condo or landed property that expats stay? How big is the smallest room in your country? Have you measured the size of a HDB master bedroom and compare with an expat's? Spore is lack of land whereas you've plentiful land, can be purchased cheaply and pass down to your dependants/grandchildren. Having a closet is better than sharing a room where FDW is given privacy. In Spore, we merely own a tiny HDB unit that has a occupancy time of only 99 years. It is not a piece of land but expensive 'brick casing' (cost from S$250,000 onwards. Read Bishan HDB flat sold for $1.01 million) yet cannot be our permanant home or be passed down.

Belief 2: Employing maid is a luxury. It is very uncommon to have a maid/helper in our country, we pretty much do everything ourselves.
Yes, for expatriates such as above but not for me. In my case, FDW is an expensive neccesity, having her took up about 60% of my monthly income. She is the key to open the door for me to go out and work. By working, I don't need to stretch my hands for miserable govt subsidy and interact with unfriendly/insensitive social workers. I don't have a high income but at least I have a chance to save some money slowly. If I am PM Lee, earning millions annually, I don't have to worry. If my hubby earns at least S$3000 a month (take home pay), I have a choice to say I can stay home look after my girl with disabilities, in a thrifty way.

Belief 3: Employing maid is extremely cheap
No, a live-in maid cost about S$1500 per month (link). My hubby's salary few years ago was much lesser than S$1500, excluding deduction of CPF and living expenses. Not enough to pay for our basic necessities, lived in the thriftiest way. We applied for low-income subsidy, went thru tedious means testing but life was really tough when I was a homemaker. The subsidy given was miserable, 2 digit only, after going thru the hassle on a every 3-month or 6-month review basis.

Belief 4: Spore employers are too pampered, too dependent on FDWs. They are afraid of hardship and housework.
Not true for employers in my case. I need a helper in order to work and save as much money as possible, before I die. I can do housework, cook and take care of my girl with disabilities. When my maid is enjoying her off days, I didn't feel handicap or unable to survive a day without her. Having a good FDW is wonderful but if maid's attitude is driving me to the wall, I would rather encourage her to take weekly off ... I need 'fresh air'. During FDW's off day, I don't ring my FDW to ask what to do during her absence, where are my things kept, why my girl is giving me unknown issues, how come this, how come that because I have house rules that set things right and ensure our lifestyle as well as habits are not altered by a maid - a paid to live-in stranger who is not going to stay with me like a family member.

Also, I didn't delegate my role as a mother to my FDW and I refuse to let another woman run my house the way she likes. FDW is suppose to respect me as the mistress of the house. Showing maid respect is not to allow her to turn my house upside down or does thing the way she pleases. FDW is hired to be my helper, not destroyer or trouble-maker. No full-time working woman enjoys working from office and then home, almost non-stop or having shorter rest time compared to FDW. Having a good helper is very important to make my life easier and less stressful. She is paid to do the chores so that I can bond with my child and spend time with hubby, etc.


Belief 5: Maids are treated like slaves

Wrong. She is a human being and makes her own decisions, including who to work for and what kind of life she wants. She is paid and protected as per MOM guidelines. She is not a piece of item that any employer dare to claim ownership. Nobody can control the FDW or treat her like slave. Employer can guide and advise but every FDW decides what she wants to listen and how much effort to put into that house. We can give her training and repeated reminders but if FDW is stubborn and uncooperative, you end up in my situation. Endure and try to live with a maid of poor conduct and attitude, till you exceeded tolerable thresholds. She has feelings and knows where to run to if she is with an unsatisfactory employer so she is definitely a normal human being with freedom and human rights.

Belief 6: Foreign Domestic Workers are paid peanuts in Spore. I don't feel that I am being overly generous by upping my maid's wages because I feel I am paying her a fair wage for a rather crappy job.
Wrong. Spore employers paid an inexperienced live-in maid higher than Malaysia, Dubai, Kuwat, etc. FDW's salary is much higher, double or triple of any professional/university graduates in her country. FDWs are not required to foot live-in costs in Spore. FDW does not need to face Spore high cost of living. How much maid wants to save and spend depends on what she wants to buy eg, mobile phone, top up card, go clubbing, etc. She is the keeper of her money.



Belief 7: Employer didn't pay maid salary for 5 to 7 months. Employer made FDW worked for free
Wrong. Employer paid your agency placement fee (about S$2200 loan). New FDW has no salary because you're paying us back what we paid on your behalf, as a lump sum (your maid loan) in advance to your recruiters both in your country and Spore. If you're a transfer maid, your outstanding placement loan +new agency fee is what you must pay to your agency. Same, new employer help you pay as lump sum on your behalf. You pay employer back by working, which you felt is free labour. Both employer and FDW must pay non-refundable fees to the agencies. When our relationship doesn't work out well, we both suffer. It means parting with our hard earned money. Selecting a suitable helper or employer is important. We shouldn't keep feeding agency our hard earned money so if maid is honest and has the right working attitude (like me, as an employee), actually we could work well for at least 2 years.

Belief 8: Treat maid with humanity and like a family member. Compromise, treat FDW with respect and don't draw a clear line.
Answers .... read this page and many other posts.

Read: House rules


Belief 9: Why not educate maids about contraception and let them enjoy safe sex like everyone else is entitled to? Do you really feel safe having a sexually repressed woman in your home 24 X 7? Have some compassion for women who left their families to make a decent living the rights to find love. Most employers seem to restrict or prevent the act of their maids - having regular sex so that they don't get pregnant (outcome). Clearly, like many laws in Singapore, this one seems to be totally out of touch with reality and humanity.

Read: Finding love

Belief 10: When a maid wants to leave, it is because the employer is bad or a freak
Read this true scenario
"So our maid has told us she wants to leave us now that she has paid off her bond. Apparently we are too much work (she doesn't cook, just cleans and walks the dog) for her and she wants an easier life with an all white family because apparently they are a soft touch.

No doubt her friends have filled her head with how much imaginary money they earn as compared to her and how they get every Sunday off. Anyway, one thing she did sight was the new contract guaranteeing her a weekly day off but also a new guaranteed minimum wage. My question is, she has found a new agency in lucky plaza and wants us to take her directly to them instead of returning her to our original agency. Apparently the lucky plaza agency said that this is fine for her to do - however as I am paying the bond and also her insurance and I am label for her in Singapore - I can compel her to return to the original agency right? I was advised by a local that if she refused to just call the police and let them deal it."


Expat or activist retorted this: "You do sound a truly horrible employer. Your maid is clearly unhappy working for you for whatever reason. The reasons she gives may not be the true reasons but she wants to leave for a better job and you are questioning her? If she owes you no money then what is the problem? She probably wants Sundays off so she can meet her friends. Nobody else gets Mondays off so she's got nobody to hang out with. Sounds perfectly normal to me. It's true that most (not all) expat employers are less demanding than locals so who can blame her for looking for a better deal. She is human! Let her go to the new agency. Not sure why you are being such a control freak...."

Another expat commented "You seem to think her reasons for wanting to leave are untrue but have you asked yourself what her real reasons may be? Why does she want to leave? Why does she not feel she can tell you the truth. You don't seem like a very caring or considerate person to work for to be honest."

Read: Domestic Maid's off day
MOM's guidelines


Expats, kindly don't spoil the local market and insist on doing something different, eg using sickening human rights as an excuse. Teach FDW to earn employer's trust, respect her and get reward for good performance. Don't teach FDWs to take things for granted or mislead them about their entitlement, such as TV or private room with absolute privacy.

In the 'olden days', expatriate means Australian, Dutch, American, French, German, etc. Nowadays imported executives/professionals called themselves expat or assumed they are expatriates because they are also persons temporarily residing in a foreign country, drawing an overseas payscale. The term 'expatriate' in some countries also has a legal context used for tax purposes. An expatriate is a person who moves to a country other than his own to work with the intent of returning to home country within a certain period. The number of years can vary but 5 years is the most commonly used maximum period.

A manual labourer or highly educated foreigner who flew over to work is labelled as 'migrant worker' or 'foreign talents'. Their remunerationis are based on local context, according to Spore employment terms.





I have not heard of locals being advised by MOM to give maid some form of entertainment such as a TV.



Firing a dishonest maid
Scenario: My maid lied about her employment history and we are having trouble trusting her - so we will be letting her go. She didnt do anything awful. Some concerns are: she is not following instructions and is advising us to eat out more so she can cook less. Further she wants us to take her out on weekends. I already told her she can go out 1 hr everyday for a walk, she can go out on weekends (on top of leave), but she said she wont go alone as she will have to spend money from pocket.

We have an infant at home. In a telephone interview, she said she worked in one family with 2 months baby until the baby was 3 yrs. Actually, she worked in for total 5 families in 2.5 yrs.

You said it's because you don't trust her but is this only because she lied about her employment history? Is there something bad she has done in the past? Everyone, yes everyone lies (apart from people on the autistic spectrum), all exaggerate, gloss over dodgy bits of our past, etc. Why would a maid be any different? Unless she's done something awful in the past, I wouldn't fire her for that.

If however you still feel you have to let her go, I'd pay the $200 and maybe a couple of hundred dollars as payment for the work she has done. How hard is this?? It's not like it will break the bank for you, is it?



Expat's view of allowing maid bring boyfriend into the house
"Do you mean that not letting the maid bring her boyfriend into her employer's home (which is also in breach of her contract by the way which she should be aware of) is an abuse of her human rights?? I am really over the slavery mentality of Singaporeans, are they so lacking in self confidence that they need to belittle some poor girl who cant fight back to make them feel better about themselves? "







Providing allowance to buy food or toiletires .... an expat's way of pampering FDW and showing sympathy. For locals, this is something unusual. Certain toiletries are not basic, not everybody needs it. Why FDW cannot adapt to employer's lifestyle and eat the same food?





Integrating, follow the norm - Maid's employer felt:

** I know several expats have minimum experiences with dealing with maids and 'human rights' is a big issues in european countries. But, please use common sense when dealing with them. There is no scientific formula in this.

Treat your home as a work place. Ask yourself if you will do the same, if you are in a professional corporate environment, and apply the same principles at home, there is nothing wrong. Just because the maid is not highly educated doesn't give them a right to behave "unprofessionally".

If maid has a friend or family on a social visit like 10-15 minutes visit, just to see the environment, it is fine. However, you don't bring a spouse to the office, lock the office door and start getting into naughty business, right? Apply the same logic for your maid. There is no abuse of human rights at all!

** Maid's boyfriends and friends are brought into the house is a definite no no! If you allow this you are asking for trouble - it is up to you though and it is also dependent on your relationship with your maid. It's personal choice and a professional non-exploitative relationship.

** What works for one (being very liberal) won't work for another. I've interviewed maids who ask me for no curfew, a TV, loads of time off, cable, DVD's etc and generally insinuated that I treat them like family with all the trimmings since their previous employer has been very generous to them with these things. This may have worked for that employer, but it wouldn't work for me. Personally I like my maids to do the work I ask them to do (clean, iron and chores) and then go do what they like outside my house. I don't like to be friendly with them, I like to be professional and in turn reward them fairly. In the past I've totally not tolerated any dramas nor deceptions. This is the only circumstances that I am willing to hire a maid and so far I've not had any quit on me in 12 years, but I have fired 3 of them in the past. What I am trying to say is that you need to interview and select carefully to avoid situations that put you in a difficult position later on.

** I always am amazed by inane comments like "I am really over the slavery mentality of Singaporeans". No, this isn't one of those "you know where Changi Airport is" but seriously guys, you come here, get paid well, plonk your arses here for years and then badmouth the place as if you've slaved and worked here and done all the hard yards like many locals do.

And let's face it - the country you come from, is it really better? If it is paying you well, why come to spore?

** She is an employee. You really need to get a grip on how maids work here. You think you are treating them well by over paying them and distorting the market for everyone else? All the while they are laughing about you and telling all your little secrets to their friends, while probably stealing from you any chance they get.. They are there to do a job, not to be your best friend.

** You guys seem incredibly out of touch with the real world outside Singapore...Yes, these poor creatures are here to work but by their own choice. We didn't force them to come.

** The fact of the matter is that the law states that a maid is not permitted to get pregnant. Whether or not you agree with that, it is still the law and all the maids are made fully aware of that before they come here.

Employers do feel deceived, especially in cases where the maid keeps it quiet until her medical resulting in an immediate departure and a lot of hassle for the employer. I was fortunate in that when my maid got pregnant I figured out something was wrong and we were able to find a replacement and just send her home quietly for "family reasons". Some maids deny there is any boyfriend on the scene and no chance of them getting pregnant - when that turns out not to be the case, the employers do felt betrayed and cheated.

** A regular sex life for maid is somewhat problematic, given the fact she is living in someone else's home so she must make hay while the sunshines. If maids choose indulge at a time other than their time off without using contraception or with someone who mistreats them then that becomes the problem and responsibility of the employer. If it makes you feel better maybe you could make your home available for maid's rendezvous and hand out contraception. Whatever maid does while in Singapore in or outside your home will obviously have repercussions for you. As long as her work permit states your name, there's nowhere you can run.

Saying that contraception is available in stores is rather naive as the same is true everywhere, yet teenage or unwanted pregnancy rates remain at all time high in developed countries!

** don't you realise that comparatively speaking they are so much better off after they remit dosh home than you are when you remit dosh home. A contract is a contract, both sides should stick to it. If they leave you then they have the problem of having to pay another agency to find them a job.

If you really need to do something to salve your 'conscience, then allow then a certain amount each day which you only give them as an end of contract bonus. Don't mention this to them.

You enjoy increasing their wages then you mistakenly believe you are so philanthropic.

** You think maid salary is peanuts. Don't you realise that with the 'peanuts' they make here back in their own countries they buy land, build houses, send their relations to school and college and set themselves up for life. If unmarried they have loads of suitors looking to marry them because they are rich. All in a 4 to 6 year period of working overseas.

Can you say you are able to do that with what you earn over a similar period? We treat our maid well, she eats with us the same food as us which is her choice, my missus has taught the maid so much, but we stick by what the contract states.

As said by a poster above, many expats think they are being generous by upping a maid's wages. If that makes them feel good then that's OK but don't come on here trying to make out what good people you are and boasting about how you pay your maid. We don't know who you are in many cases, we don't believe you and you are in many cases giving the maid totally the wrong idea about how to earn and save money. You created a FDW market that is abnormal and paid not according to our income.

Read more in my new site
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1 comment:

  1. Was chatting with my expat colleague, L about maids. L asked me ‘Do you know how many maids I have employed so far?’ Based on the market trend, maids want to work for expat and I guess these women will glue to their expat employers … so I said since you’re working in Spore for about a year, I guess you have around 2 maids. L said no, L had 8 FDWs! L had employed Filipinos, Indonesians and now an experienced Myanmese. One of these FDWs ran off to the agency during her first day of work. L couldn’t find their new maid and was worried. They got a ring from the agency and were notified that maid has taken a taxi to the agency. Agency counselled that maid who decided to try working for a while. She couldn’t make it and left.

    One of the Filipino FDWs tried to discipline L’s children and was fired. Maids have no rights to discipline or beat employers’ children. Maids are paid to help, not give employers problems or become mistress of the house but modern maids seemed don’t understand. Many FDWs fought unnecessary and demand things that they are not entitled to or should not have asked for in the first place. Some expat might be very easy going and tolerate your behaviour but that didn’t mean you’re the stand in-parent or mistress of the house. Some thought respecting maid is part of being human and unknowingly placed their loved ones at risk or created a ‘monster in the Spore’.

    L is planning a 1 month home leave and asked the current maid whether she wants to travel to Europe with them. Surprisingly, maid said no. I told L, beware what she’ll do in your absence. Whatever trouble she created, eg runaway, sleep around, get AIDS/diseases or get HURT, you’re fully responsible…. although not your fault, though you’re not in Spore, MOM will not let employers off with zero liabilities. One thing for sure, repatriation cost and agency fee +recruitment fee will be gone if she is terminated!

    No doubt maid will still get her salary and one month ‘off’ – free and easy with no employers, whole ‘house’ to herself… such benefit may not be appreciated by maid. Don’t know why modern maids become so hard to please and thought these are Entitlement. A lot didn’t realize to earn any rewards, she has to put in her heart to work and be recognized for her good efforts. Just because expat tend to take home leave, it doesn’t mean she is entitled to it.

    L said they will need to have a kopi chat with MOM. MOM is very interested to know why no maid can work long, ie finish a contract with them.

    This chat has given me the feeling maids are very demanding and resort to cheating, including in expat employment. Maid cannot accept the job scope fully but cheated and made employers employ you. Our houses are not playgrounds, why can’t you understand and stop giving employers headaches, especially lying? You deliberately wasted our money and time but not punished by the law or binded by MOM policies … too pro-maid and pro-agency. Yes, maids have the rights to find your desired employers. Yes, you’ve the right to job hop because MOM didn’t restrict your chances to be transferred/re-employed but you shouldn’t use employers’ house as playground or purposely cheat.

    ReplyDelete

This blog is not meant for screw-lose activists or loans. My blog aims to gather all FDWs' news scattered everywhere, become a one-stop site for mentally & financially bullied FDWs' employer to beware and learn. Don't pollute this blog with your pro-maid, insensible and selfish comments! Activists posting here are BLIND IDIOTS, IRRITATING freaks and deliberately showing no RESPECT for others... robbing our only breathing space.