Employers cannot push their burden of care onto maids

In the latest case of maid misdemeanour, it was reported that the maid "claims her employers and their family members ill-treated her, so she killed them" (Fugitive maid says she hid in Batam ferry's engine room; July 2).

While some may cheer that the alleged culprit has been arrested and will be punished, others are asking if this will happen again.

We have seen video clips of maids hitting the old and sick, manhandling young children or subjecting babies to life-threatening risks.

The "bad-hearted" maid is usually charged and convicted, and people sympathise with the victims and their family members.

But in any case - whether it be criminal or a minor traffic offence - there is a contributory factor involved.

In a home tragedy involving the maid, why is it that only the maid is prosecuted?

Where were the family members? Why did they "aid and abet" and allow the criminal offence to happen in their own home?

It is cruel to install cameras to monitor maids and push them to the limit of human endurance and exhaustion.

Something unpleasant is likely to happen.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development ought to ascertain that employers do not hire a domestic helper to saddle her with all the obligations and responsibilities that should be shouldered by the employer.

When a case of abuse or death arises, employers should be made legally liable too for being negligent in looking after the old, sick and vulnerable in their family.

Daniel Chan Wai Piew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Employers cannot push their burden of care onto maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe