My maid’s salary is RM570 which is a bit higher than the norm because she has had 2 years experience, explained the agent. That amount plus the agency fees and various agency expenses makes the amount we have to foot out every month about RM750 effectively.

That does not include her personal expenses, food, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, sanitary pads, etc etc. We also give her angpows and gifts etc during festive occassions and on her birthday. However, I think the biggest amount we spend on her is food because we take her out wherever we go and that includes eating out and vacations. Eating out is really expensive so our food and grocery expenses has shot up after we have a maid.

I do not disagree that maid’s salaries should be higher but I do think that like any other job, salaries must match experience, performance and quality of work. At the moment the quality just isn’t there, most of the time. Most of the maids which come with “training” have to be trained from scratch by an employer. Some of them do not even know how to use a rice cooker, iron or washing machine. Some of them are really young and inexperienced.

Perhaps a tiered salary structure would be more appropriate but more importantly, I think the agency fees should be relooked. There are a lot of hidden costs. When someone says they pay their maid RM450 for example, that is not what they are actually paying each month. Effectively, they are paying much more. The process of replacement when it comes to runaway or poor quality maids should also be looked into. Quite often employers lose a lot of money in replacement fees for runaways or poor quality maids.

For example, my sister had a poor quality maid who would go and lie down for siestas in my niece’s room hugging her pillow and dreaming. My sister had to return the maid, but she could not refund her money and had to fork out a lot more money to get a replacement who turned out to be almost as bad. In the meantime she had to pay for temp maids from the agent at a monthly rate. We teased her about her house being a training center for maids but its no joke actually. It almost is like a training center. She has to train each new maid from scratch. On top of that, she has lost quite a lot of clothing and jewellery after the maids left.

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