Create an environment of open communication
Encourage your maid to express her feelings so that she is not afraid to approach you for help when in doubt. This will go a long way in minimizing any disputes and conflicts that may arise and affect her work performance.
Having a common language helps in communication among you and your maid. Therefore, you can:
- Consider getting a phrase book for your maid, so that she can learn common English terms or phrases. You can also use the book as a reference when communicating with your maid.
- Teach your maid the basics of communicating in English or your native language.
- Download an app that can translate and pronounce simple phrases from English to your maid’s native language, and vice versa.
- Learn some important phrases in your maid’s native language to communicate more natively in an emergency.
Ensure her needs are met
If your maid is exhausted, overworked or has difficulty to adjust to a new environment, conflicts may arise. Talk to your maid regularly to find out if she is adjusting and coping well.
Your maid may not be able to follow all of your instructions or she could repeat making the same mistakes in the beginning. It may be frustrating, but please be patient with her. She is very likely stressed too and requires your understanding. It takes time for her to learn. Tell her your requirements in a firm but patient manner. Do not threaten to repatriate your maid. Talk things out with her or ask your EA to talk to her.
Don’t make assumptions
Conflicts may sometimes occur because of simple misunderstandings. Stay calm and ask questions to understand the situation. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
Compliment her when she has done a good job
The best way to boost your maid’s confidence is by giving her feedback regularly and letting her know if she is doing well. This will also make her feel appreciated and motivate her to take good care of your family.
You may praise and reward her if she has done consistently well. With your encouragement and motivation, she will be a more productive worker. As with any employment relationship, rewards and recognition are part of motivation for good performance.
Allow her to stay contact with her family and friends
Let her to stay in touch with her family and friends, who are her main source of emotional and mental support. If she has a mobile phone, allow her to use it to stay contact with them. You may however, set some ground rules, such as when she can use her mobile, etc.
Dealing with disputes that arise from misunderstandings or differing expectations
- Have a talk with your maid to resolve the problem amicably.
- Ask your EA to speak to her.
- If you suspect she might have committed a misdeed or crime, do not take matters into your own hands by punishing her. Report any criminal matters to the authorities.
The law metes out heavy penalties on people who abuse their maids. Given the vulnerability of maids, the penalty under the Penal Code for employers or household members who abuse their maids is twice that if the victim is not a maid.
The Singapore Police Force investigate allegations of maltreatment and abuse. Employers that violates their maid physically or ill-treatment will be charged in court and if found guilty, will be jailed, fined or caned. Convicted employers and their spouses will not be allowed to hire another maid permanently.
Consider your maid’s mental well-being
Your maid may need to make a lot of adjustments when she comes here to work. She would have left her family, and even her children to come to here to work, to provide for her family. These adjustments can be difficult and stressful, therefore your maid might often feel homesick and lonely.
Some of these life stressors can increase the risk of depression. Clinical depression is more serious than normal sadness as it interferes with your maid’s day-to-day life, making it hard for her to work and rest.
People with clinical depression experience five or more of the following symptoms almost every day, for two weeks or longer. Look out for these symptoms to see if your maid has clinical depression:
- Persistent sadness or emptiness.
- Loss of interest in all or almost all activities.
- Decrease or increase in appetite; weight loss or gain.
- Difficulty in sleeping or sleeping excessively.
- Restlessness or feeling agitated.
- Fatigue and lacking in energy.
- Difficult to concentrate or having trouble to think and make decisions.
- Always thinking of death or suicide.
- Feeling worthless or excessive guilt.
(Source: Health Promotion Board & Institute of Mental Health websites)
If you think that your maid is depressed, you should spend time to speak to her and encourage her to open up and offer a listening ear. Give her support emotionally by being more empathetic and understanding towards her. If you still find your maid depressed after talking to her, you should:
- Approach your employment agency.
- Call SOS at 1800 221 4444 or CDE at 1800 2255 233.
- Bring her to see a doctor so that she can be diagnosed and treated.
What happens if I keep changing my maid?
Some employers find it difficult to hire a suitable maid and may need to change their maid for different reasons. Sometimes the maid may find it’s difficult to adjust, or it could be that the employer faces difficulties in handling the maid.
You are a Frequent Change Employer if you have changed maid multiple times within a 12-month period. You have to meet certain requirements before you can hire another maid.
If you have changed more than 3 maids within a 12-month period, and you want to apply for another one, you will have to attend a classroom Employers’ Orientation Course (EOP) or attend an interview with MOM before we process your application. You cannot appoint a representative to attend on your behalf.