Due to our busy lifestyles, having a maid is a must for many households in Singapore. Many people depend on this relationship to survive, yet there are still some of them taking it for granted. A non-family person staying with you around-the-clock necessitates compromises from both parties, especially respect. To prevent misunderstandings, cultural differences should be addressed early by establishing rules for everyone.
As everyone has their own traditions and customs, setting house rules can aid in coordinating expectations between family members and the maid to create a comfortable living and working environment. The maids will need some time to adjust to living with you and acquiring your expectations and requirements, even for the experienced maids. Therefore, be patient with her so that she can rapidly become used to your lifestyle. Most importantly, both parties must be open to communication and be patient and understanding.
Work Conditions and Rest Days
Working hours for a maid are not regulated, however the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has made some suggestions. You, as the employer, are responsible to ensure that your maid gets enough rest and breaks while they are working.
It would be unreasonable for your maid to handle household duties nonstop all day. On the other side, if the helper takes too many breaks, it is also unfair to the employer. So talk to your maid to agree on the number of breaks and make adjustments as needed.
Accommodation, safety and privacy: Do your best to give your maid a private and well-ventilated room of her own. Make sure to keep it away from any potentially harmful equipment or risky structures for her.
Provide the amenities such as bed, toiletries and cabinets to make your maid’s living space as cosy as possible. You must not require your maid to pay for all these.
You can ask your maid to share a room with a family member or designate a place in your house for her to sleep in if you don’t have a spare room to provide. Regardless of the living arrangements you make, you should always respect her privacy and modesty by making sure there are no CCTVs or other video recording equipment pointed towards her assigned spaces for sleeping, changing and showering. You need to let her know where any such gadgets are if you have them in your house.
Meals: According to the Ministry of Manpower, the employer is responsible to provide the maid with enough food to sustain daily tasks. She must have at least three nutritious meals each day and drink enough water.
If your maid has special dietary needs, be sure to accommodate this. You may give her money to buy her own food or let her to prepare her own dish.
Rest Day Arrangement: A weekly rest day is necessary for your maid to acquire adequate mental and physical rest. The rest day of the week should be decided upon mutually between the employer and maid. It is important to have this agreement in writing to avoid conflicts in the future.
You must compensate your maid if you need her to work on her rest day for whatever reason. You can choose to pay her at least one day’s wage in addition to her salary or give her a substitute rest day within the same month.
Employers always worry about what do their maids do on their rest days. If you have any concerns, communicate with her and discuss them openly.
Public Holiday Regulations
Maids are not entitled to Public Holidays in Singapore. However, employers may choose to offer maids public holidays in accordance with the Employment Act of Singapore. If so, the contract should state that the employer allows the maids to the 11 paid public holidays.
Use of Mobile Phone and Internet
You may include restrictions on the use of mobile phones and the internet in the house for your maid but it must be reasonable. Your maid will remain focused throughout working hours if you provide a clear schedule for her to use her mobile phone and internet. You and your family should respect the time allowed for her to use her phone.
After all, offering her a chance to contact with her family can calm her mind, enhance her work attitude and ensure that her mental and emotion is taken well care of.
The following are some examples of general guidelines and standards of housework that you may include in the job description.
- Be careful when doing any household tasks.
- Try to keep in mind the food preferences of every family member.
- If you are doubtful of something, do not be hesitant to ask.
- Keep harmful substances and sharp objects out of children’s reach.
- Do not wipe the exteriors of windows without any supervising as it may cause danger.
- Jot down any food or household items that are going to run out so we can buy them or give you money to purchase it.
- Keep the receipts or make a note of your expenses.
Home Security and Privacy
It is vital that your family and your maid are well protected. So, spend some time detailing to your maid what she needs to do to ensure everyone staying safe in the house. For example, she must keep the house keys safely and away from opened windows along the main hallway, always keep the door locked. Tell her to shut all the windows when she goes out to buy food or run errands if you prefer her to do so.
Sometimes, your friends or relatives may visit your house without early notice or while you are away. Tell her what she needs to do in such situation, whether to let them inside and wait or call you for permission. Be clear from the beginning if you don’t want her to invite her friends over to prevent any confusion.
Observe Proper Behavior
1. Respect Employers
Respect your maid and expect the same in return. If she has any worries, encourage her to talk to you. Your maid will probably stick with you for some time if she feels secure and content with her job.
2. How Should Your Children and Members of the Family Be Treated
Let her know how she should treat your family, such as how to address you and your family member. Is she allowed to address you by your first name, or should she call you “Sir” or “Madam”?
3. Loaning and Borrowing Money
If she needs money urgently for her family or having any financial difficulties, encourage her to open up to you before turning to money lenders or loan sharks.
Tell her what kind of behaviour you are expecting from her, such as honesty, be punctual or refraining from using foul language.
5. Personal hygiene and appearance
Encourage her to practice good hygiene habits including taking showers and brushing teeth twice daily or keeping her room tidy. After all, your maid’s looks reflects on you as an employer as well.
The maids are from various background and cultures, so these house rules may not necessarily be fundamental for them, so setting some ground rules up front can help to avoid misunderstandings and minimise safety and health risks.
During the interview, discuss these rules with her to ensure that she is comfortable with them. Reviewing these rules regularly is a great way to strengthen your working relationship with your maid.