Monday, March 19, 2012
House Maids - how much should they be paid?
The problem of getting housemaids in Malaysia seems to have become a national issue. Since the maids mostly come from different countries- Malaysian girls and women do not seem to be interested at all in the job anymore - it has also become a regional problem involving countries from where the maids are recruited. Currently, the country most affected is Indonesia.
What has become a big issue is not only the question of how much household maids should be paid but also the emergence of cases where they have been mistreated and abused by their employers. On the other hand there are also cases of negligence or misconduct by the maids
leading to the death and injuries of children and babies under their care . Of course there are a few cases of attractive maids getting too much attention from their employers, causing wives to go on the warpath. But that is a different story and nothing in the world can stop it from happening as long as maids include young and beatiful damsels.
The first most important issue is the pay. How much are they ususally paid and how much should they be paid in accordance with the current market value of their services? Recent discussions between the Malaysian government and Indonesia had set the minimum payment at RM 700 -800 per month. But now Indonesia has insisted that the said amount should only be for one job. If the maids were also asked to undertake other jobs, they should be entitled to a payment for that job as well, the amount to be determined later. This has upset even the Prime Minister of Malaysia who had discussed the matter with the President of Indonesia to fix the current minimum payment.
Probably the issue of minimum payment for the maids has not been thoroughly examined. First off, we should recognize that household or. domestic assistance job can fall iunder many categories. There are those which involve more of cooking and taking charge of the kitchen. Others involve baby sitting and taking care of the children akin to wet nursing. It can also involve taking care of older people, doing
the washing, ironing clothes, making up the beds, doing some gardening work etc. The list of household works that need assistance if the wife is to have enough time for a career and taking care of a husband, is just inexhaustable.
Every nousehold certainly calls for a different mix of these job responsibilities and a different volume of work as a whole depending on the size amd the flair, capacity and interest of the wife or the mother in the household to undertake hosehold work herself. If the lady loves household work and has ample time for it, she will do all the major work leaving the maid to give assistance as required. On the other extreme she will ask the maid to do most of everything while she suprrvises and gives some assistance. Immediately we see that it's not fair to pay the maids under such different lady bosses the same amount per month.
The indonesian authorities had already classified the main duties which they cosider to belong to one job. That includes cooking, washing and ironing clothes plus taking a general care of the house. That is the core job. That seems fair enough but it leaves one very important function out and that is attending to babies and children. It is over this matter that a lot of trouble had emerged. Several acts of negligence and abuse had been uncovered some with fatal results.
It must be admitted tha looking after babies and children is a specialised job. One must be specially trained to become a wet nurse especially in the case of young maids who are not married and had no children of their own. Allowing them to look after the children could be courting a lot of trouble with dire consequences. In fact looking after the children is a mother's responsibility and a maid can only assist.
Looking after teenagers requires an even more refined training as a mistress or governess in the old English tradition. Nowadays you need a Councillor to do that. Even parents sometimes failed to undertake that responsibility effectively resulting in youths with psychological and docial problems.
Perhaps a special allowance for taking care of the kids and especially babies should be considered provided that the maid had received a certified training program for the job.. A maid doing this job will mostly have her hands full and performance in the core job will be affected. Hence any extra payment involved should be ofsetted by a deduction from the basic pay of RM700. The same goes for doing other jos like washing cars, painting the fence, gardening etc. Employers should come forward with a fair formula when an all-round maid is required and the terms must be agreed to by a maid before bing appointed. Perhaps this will resolve any fear that the maid will be underpaid or abused
There cannot be a single payment agreed to for all families because families differ in msmy ways.