CCTV cameras alone won't solve all maid woes

I refer to Sunday's report ("Do 'maid cameras' cross the line?") and letters by Ms Teng Soo Ling ("Cameras guard against abuse by maids") and Mr Francis Cheng ("Set guidelines on dos and don'ts of CCTV use"; both published on Tuesday).

A recent analysis of our 24-hour Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) helpline revealed that about 40 per cent of the calls from foreign domestic helpers were about work adjustment issues.

Many from this group also felt that their employers have difficulty entrusting them with housework and looking after the family in their absence.

This has resulted in many domestic helpers feeling depressed, alienated and suffering from a lack of confidence in their job. In addition, the lack of communication on the purpose and intent of having closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the home could have further exacerbated the situation.

It is a challenge for most employers to bring in a "stranger" to work and live under the same roof.

To address their family safety and privacy concerns, many employers resort to installing CCTV cameras in their homes.

Unfortunately, some employers do not realise the importance of communicating the intent of the use of CCTV cameras to their domestic helpers.

Moreover, installing the CCTV cameras alone does not solve all work-related issues.

Work-related matters can be resolved only through proper communication, which is crucial in building trust and in allaying fears of the intrusion of privacy.

At the end of the day, the use of CCTV cameras should not hinder the building of a good working relationship.

The onus still rests on both the employer and the domestic helper to work together to establish and strengthen mutual respect and trust, ensuring a safe and secure working relationship.

Seah Seng Choon

President

Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'CCTV cameras alone won't solve all maid woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe