Show patience, understanding as maids face steep learning curve

I share Mrs Padmini Kesavapany's sentiments regarding the need to ensure transparency and fair practices with the introduction of the Trustmark grading system for maid agencies ("Grading system for maid agencies can boost transparency"; last Thursday).

Nevertheless, we must be mindful that there are other factors that determine the successful matching of domestic helpers to employers.

The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) firmly believes that beyond attempts to match domestic helpers and employers to get the right fit, it is important for employers to help their new domestic helpers adjust and adapt to the new work-life environment.

We need to exercise patience and understanding and be supportive as new domestic helpers do face a steep learning curve.

Fast has been encouraging employers to sign their new domestic helpers up for its monthly orientation and induction programme during the first three months of their tenure.

This one-day programme helps new domestic helpers to better understand the myriad of values, cultures, beliefs and dos and don'ts in Singapore.

The programme also imparts knowledge on the unique facets of Singapore life, such as the existence of hawker centres, the differences between a wet market and supermarket, the role of community clubs, the locations and purposes of polyclinics, kindergartens and childcare centres, the use of lifts and the different modes of transport.

Thus far, participants have found the programme very useful in helping them adapt to their new work-life environment.

Fast seeks the understanding of employers that while the grading of maid agencies would go a long way in ensuring a higher probability of success in the matching of foreign domestic workers to employers, the effort of employers to help their domestic helpers adapt to their new work-life environment is crucial in enabling a long-term harmonious relationship.

William Chew Yew Meng

Executive Director

Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Show patience, understanding as maids face steep learning curve'. Print Edition | Subscribe