You may have heard the horror stories, such as about the maid who stole a large amount of cash while a family was away. Or, perhaps you’ve witnessed a negligent nanny, talking on her handphone as an infant wails nearby.
It can be difficult to trust someone with your most cherished belongings, much less, your loved ones. But if you decide to employ a helper, that is exactly what you must attempt to do.
The first step? “Start with good communication,” recommends Eddy Lam of 121 Personnel Services, a domestic helper employment agency in Singapore.
Especially when helpers are new, employers can help by giving clear instructions and setting ground rules. If your helper makes mistakes, explain how she can do better the next time.
Remember, helpers commonly come from a different culture or country. So, don’t assume that your maid will share your mindset or do things the same way you would do them.
But how many second chances does she deserve? It depends on the extent of the mistake, Eddy says. “If it is something you have emphasised many times and the helper still does not follow your instructions, maybe the helper is not suitable for that work,” he says.
As a general practice, it is a good idea to ask for – and check – receipts for items or services that your maid is responsible for transacting.
Filipino expat Christina Sia, for instance, says that she used to delegate grocery shopping to her helper, but eventually discovered that the woman was being dishonest about how the money was spent. Christina then decided to do the grocery shopping herself.
Other employers may decide to install cameras at home to keep an eye over their helpers. But, certain helpers do not like being monitored and may be offended by this,” notes Eddy. Ultimately, though, the decision to install cameras is entirely up to you, as is informing your helper that they are there. With one exception: it is against the law to install cameras in a helper’s areas of privacy, including where she changes and sleeps.
Christina, however, says she prefers to do “spot checks” by either calling her helper or going home at unpredictable times, especially if the family is on holiday, to ensure that everything is alright.
When to get help
Still, there may be instances where a helper crosses the line. If you suspect that your employee is lying to you, stealing from your home or being needlessly careless with your children or pets, Eddy advises that you first talk things out with her.
If that does not resolve the situation, a maid agency can help to counsel both employer and helper to work out a solution.
“If a compromise cannot be made, it may be best that they part ways amicably,” he says.
Eddy notes that the police should only be called in situations where the helper has commited a criminal offence such as abusing your child, trespassing (bringing in friends without permission) or making physical threats.
From The Finder (Issue 284), July 2017
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