The Straits Times posted a report “Don’t deprive domestic maids of mobile phones” on their Facebook page. It attracted more than 100 comments within 2 hours.
Here is what Singaporeans say:
Leonie R Tan Agree. If it’s a bad quality maid, with or without a handphone, she will be a bad apple. If good quality maid, having a handphone will help stabilize her emotions and retain a good helper.
I find many employers are using the olden days method to manage maids, it clearly won’t work long term. · 82 ·Likes
ShaoWei Li There are employees who actually think they can control the lives of their helpers. I think this is utter embarrassment. Those employers reading this and hoping for concensus of their archaic decision should be embarrassed. If they want to exercise that, then neither these people should use their phones at work or when with families. Your maids are helps, not slaves.· 57 ·Likes
Lyt Lim singaporeans are so bloody selfish.yes,are we not hitting the bull-eye?so,let’s get real and realistic.you nailing the FDWs..maids you called them.now,to all those employers,imagine now you yourself are working overseas,can you do without a mobile phone?does your answer speak volumn or as good as you are slapping yourself?THINK!· 50 · Likes
Jeanette Hui personally I do not take my mobile phone with me into class when I am teaching or when I am attending meetings; similarly I don’t expect the maid to be answering, or receiving messages or calls while working; when their work is over, enjoy the phones… when I am in a taxi I also remind the driver not to be distracted by his phone! so there is a time to enjoy the phone and there is a time NOT to!! · 37 · Likes
Jennifer Yeo I allowed my helper to use mobile phone and even let our home WiFi so she could Skype her family members in the Philippines….in the end…she stayed up late every night to play games…watch videos…quality of work definitely deproved….so much for trust in domestic helper to have self discipline· 22 ·Likes
As much as I understand maid employers’ concern over the issue of mobile phone use, I would like to highlight the plight of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) if they are not allowed access to their mobile phones (“More employers unhappy over maids’ mobile phone usage”; last Sunday).
Mobile phones are primarily used by many FDWs to keep in touch with their loved ones at home. This channel of communication is crucial to the mental and emotional well-being of the FDWs, as this will give them the peace of mind to focus on their job, which actually benefits their employers.
Working and living in a foreign country can be very lonely. Distressed FDWs know they can receive the much-needed emotional support by just calling our hotline or their fellow FDWs. In fact, our hotline is filled with calls from them, citing loneliness and the fear of being left alone as their major concern.
The issue at hand is really not about depriving them of their mobile phones but more about managing expectations, and education. As in any other work setting, there are fair practices related to Internet access and telephone use.
Therefore, a similar set of fair practices can be appropriated by the employers.
By so doing, it brings about a better understanding and the safeguarding of each other’s interests, resulting in a win-win situation for both sides.
Employment agencies can also play an influential role in educating the FDWs, especially the new ones, on the appropriate use of mobile phones.
FDWs can be educated on the cost of usage, the dangers of engaging strangers on social media and the need to keep within their employer’s expectations. If necessary, this can be included in the terms of employment. In fact, I understand some employment agencies have already done so.
I look forward to seeing fair engagement from employers in setting proper and reasonable expectations, fair practices, coupled with education on the use of mobile phones by their FDWs instead of prohibiting them from using it.
Seah Seng Choon
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training