JAKARTA - As Idul Fitri or Lebaran holiday comes, Jakartans who usually work away from home may find themselves unusually busy with house chores as their maids return to their hometowns.
A popular option for well-to-do residents during the Lebaran season is staying in a hotel or having a vacation outside the capital. However, those who want to stay home without the dirty laundry or messy kitchen, will rush to look for temporary domestic workers, locally known as infal.
Writer and researcher Aimee Darwis is one of the busy working mothers who regularly uses the service of a temporary domestic maid every year, as her family always stays in Jakarta during the annual exodus. She said the temporary helper would clean the house and cook until her regular maid returned from the Idul Fitri holiday.
"I will have my hands full if I get no help from infal," the mother of two who lives in West Jakarta told The Jakarta Post.
Domestic workers seeking higher income during the Idul Fitri holiday come all the way from various towns, answering the demand from Jakartan families - who don't commonly have children and male adults used to house chores.
The payment for infal maids for 10 days, excluding the administration fee for the agencies, is generally equal or 150 per cent higher than the monthly salary of a permanent maid.
As they are informal workers, employers are not obliged to pay them at least the minimum regional wage of Rp 2.2 million for Jakarta this year. A consultant said she paid her nanny a monthly wage of Rp 2.3 million while the maid is paid Rp 1 million.
Nuryanto, a customer service officer of LPK Cinta Keluarga in Meruya, West Jakarta, said the order for temporary housemaids in his agency had increased from around 100 people last year.
"This week alone, we have placed over 150 housemaids. We now have 70 ready-to-work people and expect to see five to 10 more additional people three days before Idul Fitri," he said.
The agency charges between Rp 100,000 (US$9.7) to Rp 125,000 for a housemaid per day with at least 10 days of employment and an administration fee of Rp 900,000. The monthly rate for temporary maids is between Rp 2.5 million to Rp 3.3 million.
Hiring a temporary babysitter costs Rp 150,000 to Rp 200,000 per day, while the rate of a temporary nurse for the elderly can reach Rp 300,000 per day depending on the condition of the customers.
Nuryanto said unlike housemaids looking for a permanent job, temporary maids are generally not picky toward prospective employers.
While numerous domestic maids leave Jakarta for their hometown, temporary domestic maids consider the Idul Fitri holiday as an opportunity to reap multiple income.
Ratnasari, a resident of Cianjur in West Java, would have skipped the celebration of Idul Fitri with her family for the third time this year to make more money by becoming a temporary housemaid. The 24-year-old woman said she previously worked as a domestic maid in Serpong, South Tangerang.
"My husband has given his permission. He does not have a job right now, so one of us has to work. Joining infal allows me to earn much more money than usual," she told the Post.
Meanwhile, some other working mothers try to share the house chores with their husbands while waiting for their maid to return from the holiday; but Jakarta has a wide offer of inexpensive services.
"I plan to rely on a laundry service and we can eat out if necessary," Dewi Hendrati, a mother of three who lives in Kemanggisan, West Jakarta, said.