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.