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Help with setting up house rules for a helper

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anycer
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Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby anycer » Wed, 09 Dec 2015 7:04 pm

Hey guys, my wife and I are expecting a child and we're planning on hiring a live-in helper. I've been reading a lot about helpers in Singapore (here and elsewhere) and have a very good understanding of all the legal stuff and process. What I'm having trouble with is the more nuanced parts of living with a helper.

I'm worried that a lot of stuff that people post about online over index towards people who are, culturally, in a very different place from us. I understand that this person will be an employee, but they're also a person and we want to give them a certain level of freedom and respect. So, question is, how strict do the rules really need to be?

Below is the draft I wrote for "house rules" - my wife strongly disagrees with some of the rules I came up with. Those of you that have been through this, please help us find a reasonable middle ground!

Specific questions:
1. We want to give our helper two days off - I know that's not expected, but that's what we want to do. I think the helper should work for a few hours in the morning to feed the baby, etc. Wife thinks the helper should have the full day off, like they do on Sundays. We've had friends that give helpers both days off, but they always seem to be working anyway on Saturday morning, so I'm just trying to be pragmatic about it. What have you more experienced folks seen?

2. Wife doesn't want to dictate things like curfews, dress, phone use, visitors, etc. Her thinking is... this is an adult - they can do whatever they want as long as they're doing their job.

3. Am I missing anything? Or, am I overthinking things and is this too much nonsense for an experienced transfer helper? I plan on reviewing performance on every payday (good and bad) for the first few months and hope to use this as a framework.



Working Hours:

- Monday - Friday, 7am - 7pm
- Saturdays 7am-10am, except with advanced notice
- Sundays always off

General House Rules:

- You must follow Singapore laws, including not doing any part-time work during your off-days.
- No visitors to the house without permission.
- Ask permission if you need to use the house phone. Do not give out the house phone number to friends. It’s okay to provide the house phone number to family for emergency use.
- Always be honest with us. Don’t be afraid to tell us if something is broken. It’s okay if you make a mistake, just be honest about it.
- If you misunderstand anything, are confused about anything or are not sure how to do something, it’s okay to ask.
- Be home by 11 pm on your off-days. No overnight stays out of the house.
- Only use your mobile phone after baby is asleep at night. Remember to keep the phone on silent mode.
- If you feel like there is more work than you can handle, talk to us and we will work it out together.
- Tell us if you are not feeling well and we’ll help you see a doctor.
- Tell us if you need anything for yourself or your room and tell us if there are any classes or training that you want to take.
- We have no uniform, but always dress appropriately.
- You should retire to your room after dinner.

Housework Related Rules

- Always be careful when working. Your safety is important!
- Do not clean the exterior of windows.
- Try to remember our preferences. If you aren’t sure, it’s okay to ask.
- Do not leave sharp objects, detergent, washing power or other cleaning products where baby can get them.
- General clutter and baby toys should be organized daily. The home should always appear neat and organized.
- Bathrooms, floors and the kitchen should be kept clean as needed.
- Dishes and food should always be cleaned up before retiring for the night.
- You should keep your own room and bathroom clean and tidy.

Laundry & Cooking Related Rules

- Separate light and dark clothing before washing so that light clothing isn’t dyed and iron shirts and pants after drying.
- Check clothes pockets before items go in the wash.
- Keep the kitchen well stocked and complete grocery shopping as needed. You should keep all receipts.
- When cooking, wash your hands frequently, ensure that raw meat is kept separate from cooked food.
- Always ensure that food is clean and fresh. Throw out expired food.
- Always make sure you cook enough food for yourself to eat three healthy meals per day.

Baby Related Rules

- If you think baby needs to be disciplined, tell us.
- Never spank, hit or yell at baby.
- Watch baby closely when playing.
- Talk to baby often. It’s okay to talk to baby in your native language.
- Spend time outside with baby, but always cross the road carefully and ensure the way is safe. Don’t try to rush across.
- Always tell us if baby gets hurt or is not feeling well, even if it’s very minor.

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x9200
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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby x9200 » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 7:07 am

I yet have to see a maid outside "taking care" of the children and not being on her mobile phone half of that time. The rules you listed are ok IMHO and it's a good thing to have the written so you can later reference to them if the maid does something wrong but expect a lot of work to get many things right.

Personally I would not give the 2nd day off (in whatever form) right from the start. Let her work for you for 3-6 months first. Only after such time you will know what sort of employee and person she is so you may reward her or not accordingly.

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sundaymorningstaple
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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 12:56 pm

^^^ Good point x9200. The reward system tends to go a bit further than just rules.I like the rest of the SOP as well. Well thought out and a bit of work put into it. Well done, anycer.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 1:17 pm

11pm curfew is too late in my experience and opinion. Start with 8pm and adjust upwards or when requested.

Your other rules are ok but the 'retire to your room' after dinner may be a bit harsh depending on the layout of your flat. She may still need access to kitchen and bathroom for example. We don't have that specific rule but our helper does tend to disappear around 8pm to 9pm after her shower however our helpers room is literally on the other side of the kitchen near a second door and shower which helps.

Another aspect is hair - coz you're a man you may have missed this but my wife asked our maid (who has waist long hair) to keep it tied up in a pony tail when around the house. It's a hazard in the kitchen I assume - I don't know why else she'd ask that.


Look - these ladies may be adults but usually they have very poor street smarts and are easily way laid and misled by others.
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby judyp » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 6:15 pm

I absolutely agree. The extra day off is not necessary. What would she do? Most of her friends would be at work.
My helper tells me that she gets too tired and spends too much money on her day off (8 am to 8 pm in her contract). She rarely leaves home before 9 and is usually home by around 5. She does not work when she returns, but relaxes in her room.

Many years ago, I had a helper who was pre-occupied with her looks. To be honest, she was very pretty. But she rarely ate, had long hair swinging all over, took laxatives, and put some whitening concoction on her face every night. But it did not affect her work, except the multiple toilet trips. It was an awkward situation.

I make it very clear when I employ my helper, that I expect modest dress in the home. If she does not have any appropriate clothing, I ask her to buy some and reimburse her. What she does on her day out, is her business.

As far the phone is concerned, we have agreed on a "no-phone" rule during work. She has access to our wifi, so she can chat as much as she likes after work is done at no cost to her.

The "No-visitors" rule, imo, absolutely essential. You don't want to have a pregnant maid, or pictures of strangers cavorting in your home all over the internet. Yes. It happens. And often.

I do have an extended list of instructions, which I have printed out for her (specific to every job ... washing/drying/ironing). This is more so that I do not have to keep repeating what product to use, how to use the dryer etc. If you like, I can pm you with it. It works well. It may seem very detailed and pedantic, but it is necessary.

I have seen my helpers going through it initially and later referring to it if they are unsure of anything.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby judyp » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 6:17 pm

And I think the 11 pm curfew is too late ...imo, asking for trouble, as you can be sure it will be pushed slowly beyond that. Curfew is awkward, but if you are firm in the beginning, it is much easier in the long run.

anycer
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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby anycer » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 8:40 pm

Thanks everyone, for the thoughtful input! I really do appreciate it.

We will likely take a slightly different approach than most, focusing our search on older, more experienced transfer helpers at the higher end of the usual budget with the hope that they'll be need less micromanaging, especially in personal matters. I think a lot of people think we're silly, idealistic and may be taken advantage of, but we're willing to take that risk!

I have to imagine there are others out there that have found success with our approach.

Either way, I know we have a lot of learning and adventure ahead of us!

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 8:44 pm

I think you will be successful. It's the approach I would have taken as well. I've not had a domestic in almost 30 years now, but even back then the approach seemed to work for me (the biggest thorn was my Singaporean wife - I needn't tell you about how they think of maids) and we never had a problem. Good luck with your search.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby judyp » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 9:02 pm

I did try that route a few years ago (2011), and unfortunately ...the prospective helpers were interviewing me!
These were older transfer helpers, married with family in their home country.
... I must have wifi
... I must go for a run every morning 6-8
... I must have a laptop
... you must provide a phone with data
... why do you need your car washed? It is only a bmw, my current employer has a mercedes and he washes it himself.
... I want to stay out overnight saturday , return on sunday night ...( this by the way is illegal in Singapore). As much as we want our privacy on the weekends, it is against Singapore law.

Finally, I interviewed a young, simple, single mother , new in Singapore, and she was the best helper I ever had, looking after the home through three awful years, when I had a horrific accident, and was diagnosed and treated for cancer.

Few people think it through, before starting the process. It will definitely help that you have already analysed what you need/expect from a helper.

Good luck!

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Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby RedRidingHood » Thu, 10 Dec 2015 9:58 pm

anycer wrote:
We will likely take a slightly different approach than most, focusing our search on older, more experienced transfer helpers at the higher end of the usual budget with the hope that they'll be need less micromanaging, especially in personal matters. I think a lot of people think we're silly, idealistic and may be taken advantage of, but we're willing to take that risk!

us!


Another option is to look for experienced maids who have worked here before, and are currently back home and hoping to come back to Singapore to work. It will cost you more to bring them here, compared to a direct transfer but they are equally experienced without you wondering about their reason for leaving current employer. And yes the whole process will take longer too.


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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby PNGMK » Tue, 15 Dec 2015 5:39 am

Another avenue (apart from Judy P's excellent suggestion) is to poach a good maid if you have the chance. We stole a maid from a Chinese family in the same building (to be fair I don't think she'd have renewed her contract).
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby Tinker » Wed, 13 Apr 2016 9:57 pm

Hi OP, I think I'm a bit late to the party but a list is good. I seem to be in the minority and have nothing but good to say about my helper. She has been with us since 1995, when my kids were babies, and she is a treasured part of our family.
On the day she joined us, we sat down with her and explained that as she was living with us and helping to look after our children she was now part of our family. I think we struck gold but I also think the way we treat her has a lot to do with it.

She really is part of our family. When my kids went home to Scotland she missed then and they missed her. My kids are now 22 and 23 and are coming for a holiday with their partners and they are both really excited to see Auntie Marlene and to introduce their partners to her.

My helper has been able to buy land and build a house and put her two girls through college in the Philippines because of her job with us. She is off tomorrow for a month back home with very generous holiday pay and I hope she has a great time :)

I think you will make a very nice employer.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby saran » Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:49 pm

consider to setup CCTV facility if not exist.

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Re: RE: Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby ecureilx » Wed, 13 Apr 2016 11:28 pm

saran wrote:consider to setup CCTV facility if not exist.

Yes, include her room and toilet as well.

Better if you got two maids, one to watch the other and and vice versa.

That sounds like a great idea !! 2 points to me.

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Re: Help with setting up house rules for a helper

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 14 Apr 2016 6:33 am

saran wrote:consider to setup CCTV facility if not exist.


So your husband can jack off to it? Piss off back to 1984.
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.


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