IT'S not unusual to hear Malaysians talk about the problems they have with their live-in maids.
Some families feel the need for one, while other don't like the idea of a live-in maid because of the lack of privacy and cultural problems.
Retiree Joginder Kaur Jessy, 62, said her live-in maid has been with her for the past four years.
She said having the maid around helped to reduce the work she needed to do around the house.
“However, it's important for someone to constantly be at home to ensure the maid carries out her work properly, and also to make sure she does not run away.
“Before having a maid and when I was still working, I had to do housework as well, and I got really tired easily on most days. But with the maid around, I have more time for myself and have more hours to rest,” she added.
The only disadvantage of having live-in maids, she said, was they were easily influenced, especially by men outside.
“When they put the rubbish out, or they tag along for grocery shopping, within seconds they can get mobile numbers from strangers.
“And once these maids have boyfriends, we can see that the quality of their work is affected as well,” she added.
Housewife N. Redika Kanarasan, 40, has had two live-in maids at different times, but the experiment didn't work out and she decided to quit her job to take care of her two daughters herself.
She said her first maid was problematic.
Redika caught her putting soap powder in the food and there was an incident where she found a lizard in her curry. The maid insisted on being taken to the hospital, saying she didn't feel good after consuming the lizard-contaminated food.
“Her plan was to get admitted into a hospital for food poisoning and later try to make her escape from the hospital.
“She never liked working in the house and was always finding ways to run away.Finally after six months, we could not tolerate her behaviour anymore and sent her back to the agent,” Redika relate.
She said her other maid was constantly on her mobile phone and would not clean the house properly.
According to Redika, sometimes the problem stemmed from the agents in a maid's country who promised a job at a factory but then send her to work as a maid in a private home. That makes some of these maids want to run away.
“They prefer working as part-time maids where they have more free time after working hours, instead of working full-time in a house.
“So nowadays, I just hire a maid weekly to clean the house, while on the other days, I will clean the house on my own,” she added.
Tunku Shahariah: When there is a live-in maid, there is no privacy for the family.
Zariah Karim, 41, said needed a full-time maid since her husband’s disabled sister was staying with them, and she and her husband had jobs.
After two of her maids ran away, she became sceptical about hiring another one.
“However, the third maid we currently have is much younger, and as it's her first time in the country, she does not seem so brave like the rest.
“She has been with us for nearly two years now, and she seems to be okay so far,” Zariah added.
A domestic helper from India, who only wished to be known as Deep, 27, said it was important for employers to assist their live-in maids with their self-development.
“For example, they should teach their maids new skills or encourage them to improve on some thing or other that they enjoy doing, apart from work. I feel every helper deserves to learn new things so that they are able to utilise it in their daily lives when they return home,” she said.
Deep added that employers must have patience and not harbour negative feelings towards them.
As she likes children, she suggested that employers let helpers spend time playing with or teaching the children.
Another maid who wished to be known as Renuka, 25, said employers must try to understand what their helpers were going through.
She said most helpers left their families back home and were unable to see them for a long time.
“Employers must at least allow us to speak to our families once a week. This way, the helpers too feel happy and are able to concentrate on their work,” she added.
Tunku Shahariah Tunku Yusoff, a freelance writer, in her 40s, said she needed a maid to help take care of her handicapped son. She said without a maid, it would be impossible for her to go out and work.
“There are pros and cons to having a live-in maid, but sometimes we need to make wise choices to ensure we are able to work in peace. When there is a live-in maid, there is no privacy for the family.
"She goes for family holidays, and when she gets sick, I fork out the medical fee,” she said of the maid who has been with her for 10 years.
Tunku Shahariah said her maid ate three to four meals daily and used water and electricity excessively. But there was nothing she could do about this.
Some families only opt for live-in help when the children are very young.
Staff nurse Manjit Kaur, 50, said she used to have a maid who was constantly breaking things in the house, probably unintentionally.
While the maid was too young to manage the house, but she handled manjit's daughters, who were then very young, well.
“It was good to have a maid who could clean the house extensively, but after my children were much older, I decided not to have a maid.
“So now my daughters and I take turns to clean the house and we sometimes hire an hourly maid to help,” she added.