MY NEIGHBOUR had a frightening experience with her new maid.
The maid had been told in a phone interview that she would be coming to Singapore to take care of a six-year-old special- needs child, but she ran away less than one day after starting work.
The maid hailed a taxi at about 4am, and the taxi driver took her to her agent's office free of charge.
The maid told her agent that she had opened the door to her employer's home herself, thrown the keys back into the house and left.
I have read news reports of maids being ill-treated here, but not any reports of employers being bullied by maids and the actions taken against these maids.
If a maid is irresponsible and runs away, leaving her employer's children home alone, who can the employer turn to?
The agent or the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)?
In this case, if the taxi driver had suspected that the maid had been ill-treated, he should have taken her to a police station so that the truth could be uncovered.
Sending the maid back to her agent or embassy would only be helping her in bullying her employer.
Because employers' interests are not protected, we have to waste time and money, and suffer mental stress, when such situations arise.
Should runaway maids not be penalised?
Perhaps MOM could make maids set aside a sum of money to offset the costs that employers would have to pay in the event that they run away, such as those for documentation, insurance, loss of time when waiting for and training a replacement maid, and the agent's fee.
If a maid had really been illtreated, then the sum of money would, of course, be left untouched.
On the MOM website, we can trace a maid's employment history, but are unable to find out the reason a maid did not complete her contract.
Did the maid run away, steal or get intimate with a man?
Unscrupulous agents would be most happy to recycle such maids as they could earn one to two months' commission by doing so, and employers can only blame their luck if they hired the wrong maid.
Why is there not a law to safeguard employers from being bullied or getting a problematic maid?
MADAM JAYLIN YEO
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