MAY 31 — The human resources ministry has launched the Guidelines and Tips for Employers of Foreign Domestic Helpers, offering several constructive suggestions believed to help promote more cordial relationships between employers and their maids while minimizing unpleasant incidents.
Among the suggestions include the provision of comfortable and safe accommodation and at least three daily meals for domestic helpers, in addition to one off day per week and overtime allowances.
Foreign maids have become an integral part of the lives of many Malaysians. Upper middle income families will normally hire foreign maids to help them run the day-to-day house chores.
As of March 31 this year, there were as many as 132,558 foreign maids working in this country, and there is still a relatively big demand for them in the market.
That said, foreign maids are not always getting along happily with their Malaysian employers, and there have been reported cases of maid abuse in recent years.
The fact that these maids are working in a relatively unfamiliar environment far away from home makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse by their employers.
A rape case involving an Indon maid here in 2010 triggered an outrage in Indonesia with hundreds protesting outside the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta.
In 2011, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen at one point announced the freezing of maid export to Malaysia on allegation some Cambodian maids were abused by the local hiring agencies and employers.
As such, we have an obligation to seriously look into this matter to prevent similar incidents from recurring in future while attempting to improve the relationships between employers and their maids.
Owing to different cultural and educational backgrounds as well as living habits, misunderstanding or friction could ensue if these maids were to live under the same roof as their employers over some time.
Employers must take the initiative to learn to get along well with their maids, providing them some reasonable protection.
More importantly, employers must change their attitude and view their relationships with the maids in positive light, never treating them as machines or slaves or treating them inhumanly.
Everyone is born equal in a civilized society. Maids offer their services in exchange for remunerations, and employers have absolutely no right to exploit them in any way.
The new guidelines published by the human resources ministry should help employers make appropriate arrangements on the matter of hiring foreign domestic helpers. They must make good use of the guidelines to reduce the incidence of conflicts and problems.
Meanwhile, maids must also be adequately prepared before traveling to Malaysia, and must strive to understand the differences in work cultures between their countries and ours in providing good services to their employers.
In other words, all quarters must put in the necessary effort to establish a good employer-employee relationship and put an end to the perennial problem of maid abuse.
* This article was first published here.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.