Monday 23 June 2014

More families hiring two or more maids

Additional help needed for task of caring for the elderly and children, on top of housework
By Amelia Tan, The Sunday Times, 22 Jun 2014

Housewife Liew Bee Choo had been grappling with the decision to hire a second maid for the past two years.

Her hesitancy was due to the cost and a fear that the new maid might not get along with her current one.

But now that she is in her late 60s, Mrs Liew finds it hard to cope with the housework in her two-storey bungalow near Upper Thomson Road.

Her husband, Mr Liew Keng Pang, an 84-year-old retired businessman who has rheumatism, also needs help moving around.

More Singaporeans are hiring two or more maids to help care for elderly family members and young children, on top of household chores.
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last month, Mrs Liew hired a second Indonesian maid who will arrive in Singapore this week.

More Singaporeans are finding that they need two or more maids to deal with the task of caring for elderly family members and young children, on top of household chores.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) told The Sunday Times that the proportion of employers with two or more maids has stayed at 4 per cent for the past three years.

There are no official figures for the total number of maid employers in Singapore.

However, industry players estimate that the pool of employers with two or more domestic helpers has swelled from about 7,600 in 2012 to about 8,000 last year. The total number of maid employers is likely to have grown from 190,000 to 200,000 in the last two years.

MOM figures show a spike in the number of maids from 209,600 in 2012 to 214,500 as of December last year.

The MOM said it considers applications for a second maid if employers have someone over 60 living with them or if they have two or more children under 18.

It costs about $900 a month to employ a maid, including her $500 salary, monthly levy and living expenses. But bosses say they would prefer to pay for an extra helper rather than stress out their existing one and risk her throwing in the towel.

Said Mrs Liew, in Mandarin: "I help my maid now with housework. But in a few years' time, I may not be able to do so and I think she won't be able to cope. My husband will also need more help to move around."

Maid agencies said the burn-out rate among maids who care for the elderly is high and having an extra pair of hands will help them cope better.

Orange Employment Agency owner Shirley Ng said: "Some maids quit just after a few days because taking care of the elderly is a 24/7 job."

Best Home Employment Agency boss Tay Khoon Beng said employers with two maids are also more willing to give their workers days off.

Businesswoman Katherine Han, 71, who hires one maid to care for her bedridden husband and another to do housework, agreed it is especially important to give maids who care for the elderly a day off.

"They are working almost all the time," she said. "They need to rest and recharge."

However, problems can arise when hiring two or more helpers.

Mr Karl Tan, owner of maid agency Inter-Mares Management Services, said: "The more dominant maid may want to assign the responsibilities and do less work. This will lead to unhappiness."

Employers said they are mindful of possible tensions between their helpers.

"I will be fair when assigning work," said Mrs Liew. "I will also be around to supervise so nothing will escape my eyes."

More employers are getting private investigators to check on their maids, with demand rising since it became compulsory to give maids a weekly day off.
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, June 21, 2014

More employers getting private eyes to trail maids
By Theresa Tan, The Sunday Times, 22 Jun 2014

Administrative assistant Shoba Devi, 27, got suspicious when her Filipino maid of a few months started chatting on the phone late into the night.

Miss Devi, who is single and lives with her father who is in his 60s, said: "I didn't know if she had a boyfriend and I was worried for our safety if she brought her boyfriend home."

In February, she hired private investigator James Loh, who runs International Investigators, to keep tabs on her maid during her days off.

He discovered that the maid - in her 20s and married - had a Bangladeshi boyfriend and, on her days off, they would meet to eat, shop and check into a budget hotel.

Miss Devi said: "I kind of expected her to have a boyfriend but I was shocked that she checked into a hotel with her boyfriend. What would happen if she got pregnant? So I sent her home."

She paid the private eye about $2,500 for three days of monitoring the maid, but felt it was money well spent.

She said: "It's for our safety as the maid lives with us."

Like her, some employers are forking out thousands of dollars to check on their maids. Private eyes charge about $1,000 for a day of surveillance and say it can cost between $1,000 and $4,000 to tail a maid.

Six private investigators interviewed said they all get regular assignments every month to track maids, and the number doubles during the June and December school holidays when families go on holiday and leave their maids home alone or with an elderly parent.

APAC Investigation & Consultancy's Raymond Lim said he used to get one such job every two to three months in the past. Now he attends to one or two a month and maid surveillance now accounts for up to 20 per cent of his business.

Mr David Ng, director of DP Quest Investigation Consultancy, said: "It is every employer's nightmare that some unknown man could intrude into their house. You don't know what these intruders could do, like turn violent or steal things."

While Singapore employers have long turned to sleuths to trail their maids, the investigators interviewed said demand has risen since it became compulsory last year to give maids a weekly day off.

Many employers worry about what their maids get up to on their days off.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) receives an average of 200 complaints a month about errant maids. In a report last week, maid agents told The Straits Times that bringing boyfriends home, stealing and hitting the children are the top three complaints employers make about their maids.

Some employers also get help to check if their maids are involved in prostitution - something the private investigators say is not uncommon.

Mr Ng said he trailed a Filipino maid in her 20s and found that she would check into different budget hotels with different men on a Sunday. She spent her days as a sex worker, with three to four clients each day.

His client let go of the maid as soon as he reported what he found out.

Some maids have been found to bring their boyfriends home, just as employers fear.

Mr Lim was hired to monitor an Indonesian maid when the family she worked for went on a long holiday last December, leaving her with an elderly woman with dementia.

He found that she would sneak her foreign worker boyfriend into the house in the middle of the night and the man would leave before daybreak.

When the family returned and found out, they let go of the maid.

No comments:

Post a Comment