Domestic helpers are the unsung heroes of Singapore. Thanks to their help, families are able to juggle childrearing and looking after elderly parents while succeeding in demanding careers. They also help working adults find the time to pursue their own interests and spend time with their loved ones.
Despite the major role domestic helpers play in helping families cope in their day-to-day lives, few people really think about the impact of a foreign domestic worker’s job on her own life.
Here are some things you should know in order to better understand and appreciate your domestic worker.
Many domestic helpers come to Singapore for the first time at a young age
Many domestic helpers first come to Singapore to work at a young age, typically in their early twenties. There have even been some reports of underage maids from Myanmar being sent to Singapore by unscrupulous employment agencies.
At that age, many Singaporeans are still completing their tertiary studies and living with their parents. Meanwhile, helpers are leaving their families to work in a foreign land where they do not necessarily speak the language, and live in an unfamiliar household. This can be very intimidating indeed.
Eventually, some of these helpers will end up staying for years with one family, and possibly move on to another family afterwards. They would have spent their youth working for Singapore families, far from the family and friends they grew up with.
Some helpers have children back home
Some domestic helpers already have children in their hometowns, but leave to work in Singapore in order to provide for their families. They usually choose to do so due to poverty or negative living conditions within their own families.
Again, many of these helpers end up staying for years in Singapore, unable to watch their children grow up. Sending money home every month is the only thing they can do to provide for their families.
The irony is that due to their experience caring for children, these helpers tend to be sought-after by families in Singapore with kids. As a result, they end up giving up a life with their own children in order to help raise someone else’s.
What does this mean for employers of domestic helpers?
Recognising the sacrifices made and the hardships endured by your helper in order to come to Singapore to work for you is key to developing a respectful and reasonable working relationship with her.
Giving your helper adequate rest and days off as well as showing appreciation for her work are the least you could do as an employer in return for the contributions she makes to your household.
If you can afford it, it is a nice gesture to buy your helper an air ticket to go home to see her family at least once a year.
Finally, don’t forget to protect your helper with a good maid insurance policy from HL Assurance so she can work with peace of mind.