Maids

Some families do need help throughout the week

Mr Poh Lee Heng goes too far in saying that the law should be changed to take away an employer's flexibility to compensate maids for the weekly day off with payment in-lieu (Don't give bosses flexibility to negotiate day off, March 15).

When my mother became paralysed eight years ago, my siblings and I had to attend to all her needs during our maid's monthly day off. These included transferring her from bed to wheelchair.

When the tasks became too physically straining, as we were already in our 60s, we had to hire private home nurses as most nursing homes do not offer respite care on a one-day basis.

We had to subsequently negotiate with our maid for payment in-lieu for that one day off, as the private home nursing was straining our finances.

We then tried putting my mother in a nursing home permanently instead of hiring a maid. But my mother became depressed because, for her, staying in a nursing home meant we were abandoning her.

I understand that many people are concerned about the welfare of domestic helpers here.

But to mandate compulsory weekly days off for maids and disallow negotiation for payment in-lieu would be too harsh on those who genuinely require maids' help throughout the week.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to laws on the hiring of domestic helpers. We must also consider families with elderly or disabled members at home, for whom a maid is essential and not a luxury.

Betty Ho Peck Woon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2021, with the headline 'Some families do need help throughout the week'. Subscribe