They work for a 'dream boss'

TWO maids working at an apartment near River Valley Road feel they are working for a "dream boss".

When Madam Ludi Farraas, 54, a Filipina, and Miss Fitri Nur Janti, 27, an Indonesian, faced difficulties - fell sick or had family members hospitalised or dying - their employers showered them with compassion, they said.

But it's no wonder if you know that their boss is Mr John Gee.

The 57-year-old permanent resident is an advocate for the rights of foreign workers here.

The freelance writer volunteers as the president of Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), a charity that helps migrant workers.

Madam Farraas, who has worked for the Gees for 11 years, is in charge of cooking and other household chores.

When her elderly mother died in January 2009, she was given two weeks of leave to return home to be with her family.

When her husband was struck with pneumonia last November, she was given a two-month break to return to the Philippines to care for him.

For both trips, the Gees paid the airfare.

They also continued paying her salary even when she was away.

Mr Gee said: "What we are doing is no big deal. It is just like how your company would give you compassionate leave if a crisis happens. Employers shouldn't dump their staff when there's inconvenience.

"Moreover, (our maids) need the money especially when problems happen at home."

Madam Farraas, who gets a day off weekly, said: "I'm very happy that I have such a good boss."

Miss Fitri also feels "lucky" to be working for the Gees.

Three years ago, Miss Fitri, suffered deep vein thrombosis in her right leg.

Her leg was swollen and there were days when she cried, not just in pain but also because she was anxious about her medical bills.

Her multiple medical check-ups cost about $1,000.

Although it is mandatory for employers in Singapore to pick up the medical bill for their maids, Miss Fitri felt "guilty for being a burden".

But Mr Gee and his journalist wife picked up the tab willingly, Miss Fitri said.

She also went for an operation in June 2009 to treat the deep vein thrombosis, which the doctor said was life-threatening.

Medical insurance

The surgery and her one-day hospitalisation cost $2,600. That was covered by insurance.

After the surgery, she was given six months of no-pay leave to return home to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to recover. Her employers paid the airfare.

After she regained her health, she returned to Singapore to resume her main duty - running errands for Mr Gee's 87-year-old mother-in-law.

Miss Fitri gets a day off fortnightly.

The Indonesian, who has been working for the Gees for five years, declined to reveal her salary, but said that increments have been given over the years.

She added: "It's not just about the money. They treated me very well."

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This article was first published in The New Paper.

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