Practical reasons to have live-in maids

Employers, being the directly affected party, must be accorded due consideration, with regard to the proposed arrangements for foreign domestic helpers ("Reliance on live-in maids reflects deeper malaise" by Mr Kwan Jin Yao; last Friday, and "Live-out option can improve maids' welfare" by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics; Monday).

The concerns over "live-out" domestic workers are not only over the extra costs, discipline and safety.

There is also the practical concern, as most of them are hired to look after infants, young children and the elderly.

This often requires round the clock attention. For example, infants or senile elders need attention and physical assistance at night.

This does not mean the caregivers do not get sufficient rest or sleep. In fact, they can do this at various times of the day or night when their wards are resting or asleep.

I have observed many maids engaging in conversation on their phones or with one another, and playing games on their mobile phones while with their wards. These activities do not support the assertion that they are unable to manage well.

The argument that transgressions against maids are hard to uncover also does not hold water, given the many cases we have seen of errant employers being hauled to court.

Live-in maids have been around for decades, back to the time when our women were live-in "amahs" for the expatriates who were residing here.

Our sole purpose for employing maids is to help us with the family.

We must recognise our dependence on domestic helpers and the need to source them from various countries, so that we will not be held to ransom by any one country.

Philip Sim Ah Tee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'Practical reasons to have live-in maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe