Do You Implement House Rules For Your Domestic Helper?
Congratulations on hiring a new maid! Now that you’ve chosen a helper for your home, you now enter into a time of ‘firsts’ — even if it’s not her first time working in Singapore, she’s never worked in your home before, so she probably knows little about your neighbourhood and next to nothing about your household. So, at Recruitbee, we always recommend our customers to draw up a list of house rules designed for your new maid and take some time for an orientation walk–through.
When your helper has settled down and unpacked her belonging, make her feel comfortable by showing her around your house and have a one-on-one talk with her regarding your house rules. It is important to address any cultural differences early and set some guidelines to minimize miscommunications. This enables everyone including your family members to live together and create an environment that is peaceful, loving and trusting.
Your list could include the duties she is supposed to carry out on a day-to-day basis, your expectations of her performance, house rules, etc. It is important to be as detailed as possible so that your maid doesn’t have trouble understanding what is expected of her. Keeping a copy and handing her another copy enables both, you and your maid, to use the list as a check list. Handing your maid the list on her first day ceases complications that may arise in the future such as confusion over duties, working hours, etc.
1. Working Hours and Days Off
Typically, working hours for domestic helpers revolve around 6am in the morning to about 9pm or 10pm in the evening. In between these hours, a short break should be given too but do explain that you will try to keep those hours but as and when the need arises, you would like her to be flexible.
A well-rested employee is more productive and better adjusted. Hence, you should ensure that your worker has sufficient rest, especially during the night and days-off. Your helper is entitled to an off day per week regulated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) but you may want to maintain a level of understanding with her. It is good to clarify that she can be flexible enough in her off day schedule depending on the situation. However, if she is expected to be flexible, the same applies to you, the employer.
Please remind her DO NOT do any part-time job during her day off. It is against the law in Singapore.
2. Personal Hygiene and Appearance
Talk to her that good personal hygiene habits will protect her, you, and your whole family from germs and diseases. It’s always a good practice for proper hand washing techniques, staying clean, well-groomed, and healthy.
- Wash both hands before meals, food preparation and after toilet. If there is a baby in the house, wash hands before coming close to the little one. When in doubt, wash hands as and when needed.
- Brush teeth twice a day and take proper bath at least once every day but don’t waste too much water. If needs be, use deodorant.
- Hair should be washed daily and tied up neatly. Nails are to kept short and clean.
- Change clothes and undergarments daily and have them washed properly.
- Personal towels are not to be shared and must be changed at least once a week.
- Monthly periods – Change sanitary pads and maintain freshness regularly. These pads should be properly wrapped up and disposed in a proper manner.
- Do not wear sleeveless or sexy clothes when you are working. For accessories, ring or watch is alright.
- No sharing of other people’s food and utensils.
- In the account of coughing or any transmittable sickness, keep away and wear proper masks to avoid infection. This is most assuredly more significant given the current COVID situation.
- Strictly no smoking (even when your family does).
3. Be Honest, Polite, and Practice Proper Behaviour
Being honest is the best choice! For a domestic helper, it is equally if not more important.
- Always encourage your helper to approach you directly if she has any concerns.
- If she has made a mistake, they should be (allowed to and willing to) be open about it.
- If she breaks something, she needs to speak up.
- If something happens, she must be factual, truthful, and avoid exaggeration so there is no misunderstanding.
- If she knows or are told something deeply personal about the family, she must keep it to herself and shouldn’t share with anyone, not even her closest friends and family. She must maintain confidentiality within the walls of the house.
- And the most special house rule of all; be polite.
- She should always greet the house owners.
- She should be a party to no raised voices, verbal abuse, or physical abuse to any member of the household.
- She must be kind to children and not punish them unless instructed to. And even then, she needs to inform the parents beforehand in case of any misbehavior.
- She should be respectful and kind to all elders and visiting guests.
- No foul language at all times.
Lastly, though separate, the concept of respect is also important, and this goes both ways. Give your domestic helper respect, and you will get respect in return.
4. Usage of Mobile Phone and Internet
It is up to you whether you prefer to give them the Wi-Fi password. However, bear in mind that your maid might be home sick, giving her time to call back home daily can put her mind at ease hence, be reasonable and fair when controlling on the usage of mobile phones as well as the internet usage. Setting a schedule for your maid will ensure she stays focused during working hours. You and your family should also respect the time allocated for her to use her phone. This will not only improve her working attitude but also her mental and emotional health.
As much as you value your privacy, your maid also values hers. Do not pry into her personal affairs such as letters, phone calls she makes on her mobile phone when her working hours are over, where she goes, etc. The children should also be taught to respect her privacy. However, if your maid is showing signs of depression, anxiety, perhaps it is time to see what is wrong.
5. Follow House Rules to Keep The House Secure
A domestic helper must understand and keep in mind the importance of all house rules at all times. This is especially true when the family trusts it to their care whenever they are not at home.
Your helper should be well-instructed over which door to close, which room to lock, and which to not. They should also know what areas are off-limits and what is not, what lights to switch on, and what to switch off. Most importantly if expecting unannounced guests, the domestic helper must have a general idea of what to say to them and whether to let them in. After all, some guests can be unannounced and unwanted.
6. Treating Children and Older Family Members In The Right & Respectful Way
If children and elderly are left in your helper’s care, she should know their meal and mealtimes, bedtimes, and where their essentials are placed: medicines, clothes, favourite toys. Firm but polite and clear instructions should also be taught to her to deal with children and elderly.
There should be no raised voices, threats, pinching, slapping, hitting or other types of physical abuse. Neither should there be any verbal abuse. If handling children or elders under her care becomes a problem, get her to give you an accurate account of incidents giving only full facts. You will then decide and punish if necessary. You should decide if she is allowed to call you if you are out or at work. It would be best to have your helper prepared on how she can also fend for herself in some “bullying” or difficult scenarios.
7. In case of emergency
You need to teach your helper in case of an emergency, instruct her on all the necessary actions she is authorized to take and exactly what she needs to do – stay calm, observant, and alert – to ensure a speedy and positive solution. She should take a mental note of the whole situation and focus on the facts and calm her own emotions.
Essentially, guide her on whom she can contact and place a full contact list in a central location in the house. In cases of emergency, you should be the first contact, followed by other important numbers, like the police, a helpline, etc.
It Will Be Worth Your Time & Effort
Yes, you may feel that all these house rules are common sense. However, don’t be surprised that common sense is not too common and considering it might not necessarily be basic knowledge for your domestic helpers who come from different backgrounds and cultures — having some ground rules from the start can prevent any misunderstandings and unhappiness. It will definitely ensure your household and your domestic helper are happy and efficient. We believe a good working relationship with your helper will benefit everyone and she will have the heart to work for you in a long-term basis.
As an employer, patience, and communication will allow her to adapt to your lifestyle quickly too. Most importantly, both parties need to be willing to have an open discussion while display patience and understanding towards each other. It will be beneficiated to assure her that her efforts and loyalty will definitely be acknowledged.
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