As part of Helper Appreciation Month in May, we highlight all the important ways employers can support and empower their helpers in Singapore
Domestic helpers are essential to our society. Without foreign domestic workers, many of us would not be able to work, and would have to stay home in order to take care of our children or elderly parents.
A recent report by Enrich and Experian showed that in 2018 they contributed to 2.4% of Singapore’s GDP. They come to Singapore to earn a better salary than they could in their own countries. And yet, somehow, they do not seem to lift themselves out of poverty.
Most of their salaries are immediately spent by their relatives back home, or go towards agency and loan fees. As a result, 77% of foreign domestic helpers who return to their home country think they will have to migrate again in order to earn more.
How can we help them?
Empowerment makes long-term financial stability possible, and that is the best way to make a difference in our domestic worker’s life.
Click through our gallery for 7 ways to empower your domestic worker in order for her to reach emotional and financial stability.
It’s worth talking to your helper about how she manages to save money. But don’t offer to save for her.
Whatever the reasons, an employer retaining their domestic worker’s salary, or a part of their salary, is illegal. It also sends the message that they are not capable of managing their money responsibly. Transfer her salary to her bank account rather than give her cash.
If she does not have a bank account, you can help her open one. It is proven that domestic workers save more money when they have a bank account (or even two: one for current use and one for savings). You can check the program offered by the Centre for Domestic Employees with POSB.
Help your helper take care of herself by offering her extra health check-ups and making sure the health insurance you pay for her provides good coverage.
There are a few available, either online or face to face: Aidha is a well-established charity who offer face to face financial education and micro-entrepreneurship courses. And Uplifters offers a free 3-week online course each month which is time-flexible and accessible from a simple smartphone.
Read more: Meet 5 Women Who are Aidha Success Stories
It will help her build confidence, make healthy friendships and avoid spending Sundays in shopping malls. This is actually a tremendous opportunity for helpers and yet often something they are not even aware of. You can tell her about courses offered by the charities HOME or Fast, or share examples of other helpers who have excelled with hobbies like trail running or photography.
Show your helper that you value her work. Build a healthy working relationship with her that features plenty of open communication. Most domestic workers – like all human beings – feel happy, useful and considered just by being thanked.
Read more: 4 Ways Kids Can Show Gratitude to Helpers
There are many ways to support helpers: Share with your friends, contribute by giving your time as a volunteer at an organization like HOME or Aidha, or donate. Even small donations can make a big impact.
And when hiring, consider choosing an agency that won’t charge fees to domestic worker. At the very least check its rating and reviews on MOM’s website.
Remember that you play a crucial role in your helper’s life and help her through difficult times, but she is also an adult, and your employee. Join this Facebook Support Group for Employers to get advice and support.