Foreign maids in Malaysia to get day off: minister  (AFP). I am sure you have read this news. What do you think of it?

It was reported that “Indonesian maids often work long hours, seven days a week, for a wage as low as 120 dollars a month..” I wonder where they got that figure from. I pay my maid RM570 a month (it is much more than that if you include agency fees). I have not heard of anyone paying as low as 120 before. Or perhaps they meant US dollars. Hmm…

Anyway, I tend to agree with this view. What about you? What do you think? I think that allowing maids to go out on their own on days off means trouble. Oh, I think there should be a limit to the number of hours they have to work each day and checks by authorities are a good thing. In fact, it would be a good thing to allow them to have a day off if the circumstances and situation were suitable.

However, sad to say, I do not thing the situation here is positive towards allowing maids days off on their own. There are too many negative influences. The maids are often very young, naive and easily influenced. There are too many illegal foreign workers too. Just look at the coffee shops and hawker stalls. Do you really think that all of the foreign workers there have permits? All it takes is a “Why don’t you join us. Its lucrative.” and your good maid turns into a runaway. And then there are the available foreign men workers. One thing leads to another and soon you will have unwanted phone calls and even house calls. We do not wish to limit the maids freedom but don’t forget that they are here to work for a year or two to make better lives back home for themselves and their loved ones. Negative influences are bad for them too. A wrong turn, running away and losing their permits, unwanted pregnancies etc are all bad for them. How do you curtail all these?

At the present moment, my maid is very free. She has lots of time off during the days and she goes out with us to the cinemas, out to eateries, everywhere. That raises my cost of living. Now, with a compulsory day off, which I prefer not to give so I will have to compensate, that raises the cost of having a maid even further. Couple that with loss of monies when you get the wrong maid (my sister lost thousands recently because she had to return an unsuitable maid) and I would say employers are at the losing end.

Apart from giving maids better working conditions and checking on employers, I would say that one very important thing that needs to be done is checking on the agencies.

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