Maids should have KPIs too

A maid working in Singapore.
A maid working in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

Few would disagree with Ms Jaya Anil Kumar, a case manager for the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, who said that live-in helpers are inherently vulnerable to exploitation and abuse (When family members abuse a maid together, Sept 9).

But are employers not vulnerable too (Maid abuse? What about the reverse? Sept 16)?

Having, out of necessity, to admit a stranger - not knowing her mental state, and cultural beliefs and practices - into one's home, affecting one's privacy and changing the home's dynamics and equilibrium, is daunting.

We must avoid demonising and treating employers as potential villains. What is needed is managing the expectations of both parties - the employers and the foreign domestic workers (FDWs).

An accurate and truthful biodata of an FDW is a good starting point. A lot of tension and frustration arise when an FDW cannot perform tasks that she claims she can in her biodata.

It does not help when FDWs are encouraged to dress up their profiles and capabilities by lying.

Lying is a bad start, but FDWs tend to do this throughout their entire employment journey, believing that it ensures survival.

Every job, even the most lowly, has a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). In working life, a worker who falls short of his KPIs is subjected to reprimand, counselling, forgone bonus, promotion freeze, and even dismissal.

FDWs cannot be treated differently. If they underperform, lie, or have a negative work attitude, they must be prepared for counselling and scolding. This should be emphasised during the settling-in programme.

Ultimately, we want a fruitful, understanding and happy employer-FDW relationship. This is achievable only through having a fair and equitable framework set up by all stakeholders - employers, FDWs, the Ministry of Manpower, host country governments, migrant workers' rights groups, and recruitment and employment agencies.

Ultimately, we want a fruitful, understanding and happy employer-FDW relationship. This is achievable only through having a fair and equitable framework set up by all stakeholders - employers, FDWs, the Ministry of Manpower, host country governments, migrant workers' rights groups, and recruitment and employment agencies.

The employer-FDW framework is a work in progress. A lot more needs to be done to strengthen it.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2019, with the headline 'Maids should have KPIs too'. Print Edition | Subscribe