Maids' phone use at work a safety risk

New maids are given a free SIM card and some tips on mobile phone usage at Best Home Employment Agency.
New maids are given a free SIM card and some tips on mobile phone usage at Best Home Employment Agency. PHOTO: ST FILE

As my family sympathises with maids having to work so far away from their families, we have given them the privilege of using their mobile phones to call home whenever they wished ("More employers unhappy over maids' mobile phone usage"; last Sunday).

However, one maid was on her phone, uploading photos of herself, late into the night, compromising on the eight hours of sleep we insisted she have.

Another had her wireless earpiece in her ear all day, chatting as she did the household chores, including cooking. Worried that she might scald herself, we told her to stop talking while she was cooking, but she insisted that her phone was not a hindrance.

 

I have seen maids allowing their young charges to run across the road as they continued chatting on the phone.

Who should bear responsibility if mishaps occur because of maids' use of the mobile phone?

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics executive director Jolovan Wham said it is highly disrespectful and inappropriate for employers to keep maids' mobile phones. But is it respectful and appropriate for maids to be spending their working hours on phone calls and Facebook, and increase electricity usage by charging the phones often?

If a maid feels that she has to use her mobile phone often, then it is only fair for her to inform her prospective employer about this. The maid can reject any employment that forbids her to use her phone frequently. Similarly, a prospective employer can decide if a maid who needs to use her phone frequently would be suitable.

Elizabeth Ng Boon Kwan (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2015, with the headline 'Maids' phone use at work a safety risk'. Print Edition | Subscribe