Live-out Maids and Their Rights

Should they fight for their right or remain in adherence to the present rules? This is the question that has been whispered and circulated around for a while now. And there has been a constant debate whether maids should even be allowed to live out or in. No matter what side you are on, a little bit of a discussion is always help to make the best conclusion.
A recent announcement had been released by the Indonesian government saying that it wants its maids to separately live from their employers. Not only that, it also states that they should work on regular hours, enjoy days off, public holidays and even overtime. It seems to be fighting for the rights of their maids and not everyone especially the employers are very pleased with it.
Indonesia is Singapore’s largest source of foreign domestic workers. That is why, every decision that the Indonesian government makes on this matter will greatly affect the outsourcing country. The very reason why Singapore disagrees with what the Indonesian government is pushing for is the fact that they see it illegal to allow a foreign domestic worker to live outside of their workplace. They have a couple of reasons, to their defense, why they do not allow it. They find it risky and a threat to their safety. They want to be able to oversee everything that these maids do and feel that they are in control of everything. It’s almost as if they want to have a surveillance camera attached to each of them so that they are sure that they are not a threat to their well-being. While some of these reasons are acceptable, are they not also too much to the point of disregarding the well-being of these maids? Think about it.
If we focus on the “what ifs” that lie behind the reason why they don’t allow maids to live outside of their workplace, there is a tendency for paranoia. However, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, there could also be great benefits that come with allowing them to live out.
Maintaining privacy is a big deal for employers and their families. If privacy is something that you want to keep intact, then it is all the more reasonable for them to allow their maids to live outside of their home. There is not a point in “binding them into a chain” if they are not even working on those days or hours. If their service is not needed as often as 24/7, then they need not to be around all the time. And in most cases, this will also allow the live-out maid to destress and relax as they need it to perform better in their service. Anyone who is overworked or unable to relax will not be able to give out their best in their job. If you are an employer who also values quality service, then you must allow them to have the freedom they deserve and need to have in order to achieve your expectations.
There is a sad truth to this matter. Maids are looked down upon by so many of us. We all have the tendency to do so just because they didn’t get a degree first in order to get that kind of a job. It’s something that the flawed society has injected into our minds, making us think something we should avoid setting as a mindset. And sadly, this is one of the many reasons why it’s so hard for maid employers to give them their full rights and the best that they deserve. Even if verbally they don’t claim that it is, their actions speak so loud, that they think of this as a master-servant setup kind of a relationship. A master is superior and does whatever they want without giving any regard to how the servant feels. The servant is a low-class human that they can just treat however they want and that’s all that matters. Same is true with how these Indonesian maids are being treated with the current rules and regulations. There is little to no concern as to how these would affect them and if it would even give them something better like what they deserve.
It is true that they must adhere to the rules given to them by the government and their employers. And as far as my observation is concerned, they quietly and simply follow them. However, for the employers, if they really want them to last they also must be fair in treating them. They should think about how hard it is to find helpers who are able to do the tasks that they need them to do. And it’s even much harder to find someone who isn’t only skilled but also trustworthy. So when you find someone who is, you would not want to let that person go. Of course you always have the option to shun away those who don’t do their job well but chances are also an option to give until it becomes too much.
What I’m just really trying to point out here is this: maids should have the privileges and opportunities that they should have. They work as hard as everyone else and we need them as much as they need us or maybe even more. If we only think of them as an employee who does things that will bring us great advantages in our household or whatever else we need done, then this perspective won’t stay the same. Also, the Indonesian government must work hard to look into these things and create fair and just rules so that boundaries are set well. But even without these things, there are employers who have the option to give their maids the best treatment possible that is only right for them. If there is a request for them to live out, then give it to them. You always hold the decision how you would want to act in the first place. If you want to be the employer that a maid would love to continually serve, you have all the power to be that person.

This article was contributed by Kriztina, who likes to write articles on religion and social issues.

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