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Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Maid

Reasonable Expectations – Before you employ a maid, you should think very carefully about your expectation of a maid. When you interview the maid through phone, webcam or face-to-face, you may want to mention some of these expectations and see how the maid responds to them. Write your expectations down and pass it to your maid once she arrives. You may want to write them on a paper and paste it on wall where your maid can easily see just in case she may forget some of them. To go the extra step, you may consider translating your expectation into your maid’s mother tongue just in case there is a language barrier. When you write your expectations clearly, it is also going to benefit your maid as she knows what she is expected and make herself fit into the job easier and faster.

Culture Shock – Many domestic workers are not used to staying in a city as they usually come from a rural area. They may also have difficulty in understanding and communicating in the language you use at home. Therefore they would need some time to be familiar with your household habits. Common difficulties include using appliances like microwave ovens and washing machines as well as adjusting to living in high rise buildings. She would also be used to different practices in child-minding. Although during the maid’s training they may have already been trained in a variety of tasks, but it is still advisable that you can still spend sometime to train your maid in the first few weeks after her arrival. This is because tools used by the maid agency may be different from those at your house. Such training can help your maid to get used to the working environment faster.

Open Communication – Your maid comes from a very different social, cultural and even religious background. She could be feeling homesick and lonely. As the employer, help her by letting her communicate with her family and friends back home via mail, or allow her to call back home, this will help alleviate her homesickness and sense of isolation.

Work Schedule or Timetable – It is good to have a schedule for your maid, you may pass the schedule to her when she arrives. In your schedule, you may want to specify how frequent you want your maid to sweep the floor, clean the kitchen and toilet, clean window and how much time she should spend on playing your child. Be as specific as possible so that your maid can follow easily.

House Rules – You may also want to communicate your house rules to your maid. For example, you may not want your maid to enter your bedroom without your permission. You may want to limit the number of calls she can make using your home fixed line. You may not want her to use her phone while she’s carrying out her job, or may like her to switch her hand phone to silent mode at night. Again, write them down and pass it to your maid.

Personal Preferences & Common Sense – A same task, different people may do it differently using different method with different input, taking different amount of time. For example, you use three buckets of water to sweep the floor, but your maid may just want to use two. Do not get offended when your maid carries out the task differently from yours. Try to communicate your preferences to your maid if you are not comfortable with her method of carrying out the task. Furthermore, a matter may be common sense to you, but it may not be a common sense to another person. Do not use common sense as an excuse to judge your maid. Do not forget your maid’s background is perhaps totally different from you.

Consistent Encouragements & Feedbacks – Try to give your maid feedback so that she knows whether she has done a good job or not. If there is anything you like her to improve, try to feedback to her and do not sound that you are scolding her. If she has done anything excellent, do praise her for the good work.

Family Integration – As far as is practical, integrate her into your family since she will stay in your home during her employment duration. Try and understand her different background. Exercising patience, tolerance and understanding will go a long way in minimizing any disputes and conflicts that could affect her performance.

General Well-being – As an employer, you are also responsible for your maid’s general well-being including sufficient food, accommodation, basic necessities and medical care. She should be treated fairly and reasonably when you assign household duties to her. A happy and well-treated worker will give you less trouble than one who is unhappy.

High Risk Tasks – If you live in a flat or apartment and would like your maid to clean the windows, it is advised that you supervise and guide her throughout the whole task as she may not understand the dangers in windows cleaning. Should cleaning of windows is required but no one is available to supervise, it is worth considering to postpone the task to a period when someone is able to provide supervision to ensure her safety. If there are window grilles installed, you may wish to leave her to carry out the cleaning alone, but do ensure that she does not unlock the grilles and put herself in danger while carrying out the task.

Wages – You can either pay your maid by cash or credit her wages into her bank account. To avoid any misunderstanding, this should be properly documented and if a bank account is used, you should let her keep the account book. If by mutual agreement you are to keep the account book, she must be given access to check that payments are credited regularly.

Incentives for Good Work – Where appropriate, this should be considered because it acts as a good motivator. You may want to reward your maid for the good work done, in the form of a small amount of cash, annual bonus, an extra day off or anything your maid may like. Everyone, including us, will respond positively to the incentives.

Medical Care – As an employer, you are responsible for the medical benefits of your worker. Should she require medical treatment, including hospitalization, you are required to bear the full cost of medical care.

Accommodation – Where possible, your worker should be given a separate room of her own. In the event this is unavailable in your home, you should respect the need of the maid for privacy and ensure that sufficient private space for sleep is provided. Some examples of improper accommodation include making the maid sleep in the corridor or living room or sharing a room with a male adult.

Adequate Rest & Food – A well-rested worker is more productive and better adjusted. Hence, you should ensure that your worker has sufficient rest of 7 to 8 hours of sleep, especially during the night and with sufficient off days, which is mutually agreed upon between you and your maid. Enough food for her to eat will keep her fit and healthy, this can also make sure she has enough energy to do all the tasks assigned by you.

Maid Abuse – If you do not like your maid for various reasons, do not ever abuse maid verbally or physically, you can simply engage with her agency for consultation or for change with another maid. But if you abuse her verbally or physically, you may get into the trouble with law. A healthy employer-employee relationship is beneficial to both you and the maid. It should start with first a proper communication with reasonable expectation, house rule and personal preference, follow by consistent feedback and rewards for good work. If you manage your maid well and she is willing to follow, she may in the end become an integral part of your family.

Tips to Keep Your Maid Happy & Thankful

In Malaysia, to hire a maid per household is not easy since the government had set a strict rules against the employers.

In the past, many employers had abused their authority by mistreating the maids with various ill treatments which they presume “common practice”.

Hence, maids started to run away from the employers home or seeking the agent’s help to end their sufferings.

Majority of these ill treated maids would cease their contract earlier or when it has expired. None of them would return to the same employer anymore.

So, how do you keep your maid happy and stick with you through thick and thin?

Why you should keep your maid happy

  • she will extend her contract with you, you don’t have to look for another new maid
  • you don’t have to teach your new maid about your household rules everytime your new maid arrives ( aren’t you sick and tired of it?)
  • your maid is familiar with your habits, household rules, help to keep your house safe and sound
  • your maid helps you to take care of your children/ baby, your old aged parents or your pets
  • you can put your trust in your maid when you are away for work, grocery shopping or on vacation

Here are some suggestions and ideas how to maintain a good relation with your maid for many years.

#1 – Training and Understanding

Most maids in Malaysia are from Indonesia while Singapore employs Filipino maids.

This is due to the language that the maids embraced that enable the employers to communicate with them.

It is impossible for a Malay spoken Indonesia maid to communicate with English spoken Singaporean employer.

Same with an English spoken Filipino maid speaking with a Malay or Chinese spoken Malaysian employer.

Ducks and chickens do not speak the same language.

Get a suitable maid that had been trained to speak your preferred language in order to establish better understanding between each other.

Just in case, keep a paper back dictionary or download a dictionary apps into your smartphone.

You can look up for those words which your maid doesn’t understand, refer them together with the useful dictionary.

Both of you could try the effort to memorize those difficult words which are used often.

In addition, most maids come from different countries, different backgrounds from their employers.

Hence, allow some time for your maids to adapt themselves to the new surroundings.

#2 – Keeping in touch

Foreign maids might experience loneliness and homesickness because they are working far, far away from their homeland.

Provide them some alternative ways to keep in contact with their family members from time to time.

Nowadays, every maid owns at least one cellphone to keep in touch with her love ones back home.

Some employers are kind to provide a second hand laptop or Ipad to allow the maids to get in touch with their friends, family members and watch videos online.

However, give them restriction time because maids might get out of hand, neglecting their responsibilities when they are too engrossed with technology gadgets.

Give them an inch, they ask for a yard.

#3 – Respect

Treat your maid with respect and understanding of her religion.

Do not presume that your maid is your “property” and “object” that you can use anyway you want to.

Employers had the WRONG concept about employing maids that they are “servant” to the Lords.

Maids are human beings too, they have feelings like you and me.

Understand her religion, what she can eat ( whether she is a Muslim- abstain from pork and lard ), her ritual habits ( example : prayer time).

If you cannot accommodate with her religious practice, request your agent to change another maid as according to your preference.

Do not force your maid to eat what your family eat.

She is not an animal.

Treat her with mutual respect, she will in return treat you the same.

Guide to Recruiting a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

It is indisputable that among Malaysian families, foreign maids from Indonesia , Philippines or Vietnam are some of the popular foreign maid nationalities, so be it if you are a first time maid employer or otherwise, here are some tips on how to shortlist a foreign maid.

Based on our experience, to avoid tragic cases such as babies or child being abuse by maids, or maids being sexual abused by home employers, here are a few quick tips you should consider prior to recruiting a domestic helper.

Quick Tips:

Married maids – We are sure most of wives will agree with us, while on the other hand husbands losses their smile. Agency Pekerjaan Together Sdn Bhd recommend married maids and preferably 30 years old and above, since they are more likely to have experience in taking care of their own children and understands parenthood. This should be the priority of home employers when looking for domestic helpers primarily to take care of their young ones. Based on our experience, younger maids are more likely to get themselves into unwanted relationships within the vicinity of their employment, that could decrease their efficiency while discharge their duties.

Communications – In the current age and owing to basic human rights, we don’t really have the power to outright disallow the usage of mobile phones. As a maid employer and human being, we too must understand and have sympathy that they too have loved ones whom they left behind and come to Malaysia just to earn money. We are aware that some maid employers will argue that allowing the usage of mobile phones may affect their quality of work and responsibilities. For that reason, we would suggest letting them use mobile phones only when their are having breaks or within an agreed time with their employer.

Come speak to us at or visit us for free consultation. We are located at Nusajaya in Johor Bahru and we warmly welcome your visit.

Understanding How to Have a Happier Relationship with Your Maid

How to make sure your helper works well in your home – without becoming nasty to her?

Helper Hitch #1 – She has difficulty settling into your household and can’t get along with some family members.

Your helper may be having trouble assimilating into a new culture. So make sure her basic needs are met – that she has a clean and comfortable room, and enough food, since she may not be used to the kind of food your family eats.

She may also be missing her loved ones back home, so if you sense that she feels unsettled, have a chat with her – assure her that you care about her and that she’s part of the family. Remind her that her sacrifices are worth it, and let her speak to her immediate family regularly so she feels connected to them.

Getting along with everyone at home may be trickier. With different personalities and expectations, it’s not unusual for tensions to arise. Get your helper’s perspective on the situation, then suggest ways to deal with it, either by getting her to adjust her attitude or to understand what others in the family are like.

Next, have a talk with the family member who’s not getting along with your helper. Emphasise the importance of harmony and compromise since you’re all living under the same roof.

Helper Hitch #2 – She spends too much time on her chores and doesn’t work effectively.

This could be due to differing expectations: your maid may think she’s doing her best, but you think otherwise because you can do it faster or your last helper was more productive.

You shouldn’t compare your current helper to your previous one – it will only breed resentment and cause her to feel inadequate. Instead, go through her daily routine with her and find out how she does her chores. Tell her how she can do things more efficiently.

Never give her more than she can do. Start with a few simple tasks and build them up when you’re confident that she can manage. Don’t forget to praise her when she’s done something well. This will increase her confidence, and in turn, enhance her work performance.

Helper Hitch #3 – Your helper looks after your children and your elderly parents, on top of doing the household chores. She may take her frustration out on the kids or your folks, or not make them a priority.

If she has been slack in taking care of the kids or helping your parents at home, understand that her behaviour is likely due to the frustration she feels about her daily routine – she might be overwhelmed and stressed. Talk to her and see where you can make things more manageable for her.

If she takes it out on your family verbally or physically, bring in the agency to help resolve the issue. Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated. If the problem can’t be resolved and she returns to her old ways, consider getting a new helper.

Helper Hitch #4 – She doesn’t follow some instructions – she usually does only 80 per cent of what you tell her to.

Be clear with your instructions and make sure she understands what you expect of her. For instance, telling her to “clean the room” is very vague. How do you want her to clean the room? Which parts do you want cleaned? You may also want to break down her chores into smaller and more manageable tasks, and ask her to write down your instructions so she doesn’t forget them. When she’s finished, give her positive as well as constructive feedback so she does a better job next time.

Helper Hitch #5 – Your helper has habits that bother you and the family. For example, she has poor personal hygiene, swears under her breath or has bad table manners.

If any of your family members behave in similar ways, tell them you will not tolerate their bad habits. Hopefully, your helper will understand that she also needs to improve.

If you wish to be more direct, speak to her one-to-one. Tell her what you’ve observed – that she chews with her mouth open or has poor personal hygiene – and politely request some changes. For example, say “I would like you to make sure that you shower at least once a day, and immediately after doing outdoor work”. Be mindful of your tone and avoid accusatory statements like “You’re so smelly” or “You’re so rude”.

Helper Hitch #6 – Your helper tries to get too chummy with you and your visitors and is nosy about what goes on in the household.

It’s up to you to set the boundaries. If your maid feels like she’s part of the family, she’ll take an interest in what goes on in the house. So sit her down and make it clear that she must respect the family’s personal issues.

But before speaking to her, check that you haven’t been involving her in your personal problems – that is, sharing private information with her or asking for her help with these matters. If you have, you may be partly responsible for her behaviour.

Calmly explain to her the concept and importance of boundaries. Bring in examples, such as: “I was happy to see you taking good care of our visitors today. But next time, after serving them drinks, leave them in the living room so that I can talk to them” or “Thanks for asking about that argument I had with my mum. It’s just a normal squabble. You can help by telling me right away when my mum calls the house”.

Helper Hitch #7 – She doesn’t reveal much about herself. How do you befriend her while maintaining those professional boundaries?

It takes time to form a sincere and trusting friendship. Start by asking questions about her life, family and home country. You may wish to share some of your stories too. Involve her in outings with the family where she doesn’t have to work (like a walk in the park), celebrate her birthday, occasionally buy gifts for her kids to show you care, and communicate with her even if it has nothing to do with her chores.

Once she sees that you value her as a person, she’ll be more likely to open up and have greater respect for you.

If you’re afraid to befriend her for fear of losing your authority, just remember that if there is respect, no authority is needed – because there’ll be an unspoken understanding between you.

Helper Hitch #8 – She can’t focus on her work because she’s had bad news from home (like a natural disaster or a death in the family) or has marital or financial difficulties.

Put yourself in her shoes. Understand that she needs to heal or grieve, and give her the time and space to do so. She may be feeling helpless, hopeless, guilty, panicked, lost, stressed or confused. These emotions can take up a lot of physical and mental energy.

Offer a listening ear. Show her that you are genuinely concerned about what she’s going through, and see how you can help – financially or otherwise. If she’s still affected months later, try signing her up for a professional counselling session.

Helper Hitch #9 – She doesn’t speak up when something goes wrong, for fear of being scolded.

Let your helper know that she can go to you even if she’s made a mistake – like accidentally breaking something in the house, or if your child or elderly parent fell and hurt themselves while she was looking after them.

Reassure her that you will not send her back or complain to her agency, and explain why it’s important to keep you informed. When she does open up to you about a problem, notice how you react. Do you fly off the handle or hurl accusations? Do you make her feel bad that she’s coming to you with a problem? If that is how you act, then it’s only natural that she wouldn’t want to speak up. Focus instead on how she can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

Helper Hitch #10 – She doesn’t take the initiative. She always waits for your instructions, even for the simplest tasks.

Your maid may not feel empowered because her agency told her to do only as she’s told, or her previous employer didn’t like it when she took the initiative. If you’d like her to be more proactive, tell her. You can ask for her opinion on how to do certain things. For example, say: “I would like you to reorganise the store room today. Can you think of the best way to get everything neat and tidy?”

Make her feel that she is capable of performing those tasks. When she does them, praise her efforts.

Helper Hitch #11 – Your helper refuses to take her scheduled day off, preferring to work instead of rest.

What’s her reason for overworking? Is she trying to show you that she’s capable? Is having more money important to her? Is her job all that she has to pass her time with? Find out her motives and share your concerns. Tell her that if she carries on at that pace, she may fall ill.

If she says that she wants to take the day off but has too much to do, go through her schedule with her and cut down on her chores or teach her how to manage her time better. Introduce her to activities she can do outside the home on her days off.

Helper Hitch #12 – She’s always on the phone, even while performing her household duties and looking after the kids.

Make this rule clear from the beginning: She can use the phone if there’s an emergency, and during her break times or days off, but not while working. Explain what can happen if she tries to cook and talk on the phone at the same time, for instance – she could make a mistake while cutting up meat and injure herself.

Once you’ve set the rule, be consistent in making sure that she’s following it. And when she’s on the phone during her break, don’t disturb her or badger her to finish the call.

Our Roles as Maid Employers

If you’ve hired a maid to help you look after your baby, you’ve given her a huge responsibility. You want a good relationship with her. Wherever she is from, whether you have a foreign maid or a local one, she deserves to be happy, to feel appreciated and cared about. You want her to have your baby’s best interest at heart, and one sure way to do that is to have her best interest at heart.

The suggestions and examples below for managing your maid are in no way comprehensive. Each family is different and only you know what works best for your family and lifestyle. However, if you aim to create a mutually-beneficial relationship with your maid, then you’re off to a good start.

How can I build a good relationship with my maid?

Once your new maid has arrived in your house, it is worth trying to make the relationship work. It is much less disruptive for your baby if she can have the same carer all the time. It also makes financial sense for you, as a foreign maid can work here as long as you keep renewing her permit every year. Renewing your maid’s permit every year will cost you far less than hiring a new domestic helper and paying another round of levies and fees.

Your maid lives in your house, but she is still an employee. In the first few months, you may want to keep things quite formal: she is the employee and you are the employer. Later, she may become an integral member of the household, but that is likely to take some months or even years.

In the meantime, think about your own job and employer: the terms and conditions that make it a favourable workplace (or not!), the factors that keep you motivated and the little extras that make going to work a pleasure. How to replicate these in your home setting for your maid.

How can I be a better employer?

There are many different ways and means you can provide your maid with work conditions that will help her do her best for your baby.

Reasonable terms of employment– Malaysian labour laws specifically exclude domestic helpers, but that does not mean you cannot provide terms that will enable her to stay fit and healthy, and have the energy to provide the best care for your baby.

  • What are her working hours?
  • Will she be able to get eight hours’ sleep each night?
  • Will she have time to cook her own meals and favourite foods?
  • Will she have any leisure time at all?

Decent living conditions– Generally, most employers provide their maids with her own room complete with a bed and pillow, a cupboard or drawers, a fan. Radio or TV are considered extras. Your maid should also have her own bathroom as she will need to do her laundry there as well. Some maids have their own handphones (you can specify that personal calls are only allowed after she has finished her work for the day); if not, do allow her opportunities to call home on a regular basis.

Incentives for a job well done– Everyone responds to incentives; think of yourself putting in the necessary to get that bonus. Similarly, let your maid know that if she does her job well, she can eventually expect more days off, a small cash bonus or a TV or radio in her room.

A clear job description– Is she hired specifically to look after your baby? Or will she, like many maids here, also be expected to sweep and mop the floors, wash the dishes, make the beds, iron and generally keep the house tidy? Some people also expect their maids to walk and bathe the family pet, tend the garden as well as wash and vacuum their cars.

You must be clear about your expectations, but remember if she has to do too much, she may not be able to provide the quality care you want for your baby.

A schedule or timetable– Once your baby is settled into a routine, you may want to consider drawing up a schedule, especially if you have older children who have their own extracurricular and after-school activities. This way, everyone in the house knows what to expect every day, and your maid knows exactly what she needs to get done.

Mutual respect– If you hire a foreign maid, there may be some cultural and religious differences. Do all you can to accommodate them. Where you cannot compromise, make your position known to the maid agency.

Job training– Even if you found your maid through a recruitment agency that was supposed to provide training, your household, set up and layout are still new to her. Rather than just say you’d like her to mop the floor, show her how you would like it done. Show her how to wash the breast pump, how to operate the steriliser, where to store them. Some of these mod cons will be unfamiliar to her. You will also likely need to explain food hygiene.

How can I help her be a better employee?

Many families who are hiring a maid to look after a baby look for women who have worked as a maid before, either in Malaysia or another country. Many employers also prefer to hire women who have their own children. Whether or not your maid comes to you armed with personal or professional experience, it will pay to:

Supervise closely in the first few weeks– Spend some time working together, so that your maid can learn routines and preferences from you, and you can see how she relates to your baby.

Upgrade her skills– The more your maid knows, the better care she can give. Consider signing her up for a first aid course, take her with you to a breastfeeding class or support group, or if you find her cooking skills not quite up to expectations, why not send her for a few lessons? These steps can go a long way in making her feel like a respected professional. In the end, that’s what you hope for in any caregiver.

Communicate– Ask her to repeat your instructions to you just to make sure she understands them. This is especially important if there are language barriers. Arm yourself with a dictionary for your maid’s language and refer to it together.

Within your own extended family, be clear about who can give instructions to your maid, so that she is not overwhelmed by demands from too many people. This will also help your maid prioritise her tasks and responsibilities.