Cultivating a good employer-employee relationship takes time and effort. Get to know your FDW, be fair to her and treat her well.
FDWs who are new to Singapore will need time to orientate themselves to our way of life. Even if your FDW has experience working in Singapore, she still needs time to understand your expectations of her.
Help your FDW fit into your family by showing her care and understanding. It will be worthwhile to get along well with your helper.
First of all, you can save lots of time and money by not changing helpers. The Ministry of Manpower has made it tougher for employers to change their helpers frequently. So if you change your helpers too often, you have to re-take the Employer Orientation Course, go through interviews with MOM before they assess if they will approve your application for new helper.
Secondly, if your current helper has been taking care of your baby, changing to a new helper may disrupt your baby’s mood. Your baby needs time to get used to a new helper, and may experience anxiety or may not sleep well.
If your current helper has been taking care of your parents, then your parents may have gotten used to her, and may need time to adjust to a new helper again.
Thirdly, you have to spend time and effort to train a new helper on housework, style of cooking, and how to use your household appliances, and letting her know your expectations and house rules.
Finally, a happy helper is a productive helper. A happy helper may just go the extra mile to help you look after your family well, and treat your baby like her own baby, and your parents like her parents.
Understanding Your FDW
Your FDW comes from a different background
Her values, lifestyle and customs are different. Be firm but patient and understanding with her. This will help you create a good working relationship with her. FDWs who get along well with their employers are generally more motivated.
She is far from her family and friends
Anyone who is separated from their loved ones would feel homesick and lonely sometimes. Help your FDW adjust by allowing her to communicate with her family and friends at home.
Good working relationships start with communication
Encourage your FDW to approach you if she has any questions or problems. Make it clear to your FDW what you expect of her. With better communication, misunderstandings and disputes are also less likely to occur.
Having an Employment Contract
An employment contract which clearly spells out the terms and conditions of work and benefits such as salary and rest days can help to minimise misunderstandings. The contract should be based on mutual agreement between you and your FDW. We at Jobs and Staff can assist you in drawing up an employment contract.
Coaching Your FDW
Explain, demonstrate, supervise and give feedback
Employers sometimes need to take on the role of a coach to demonstrate, correct and encourage. Your FDW will learn faster if she is shown how to do the job. Compliment her when she has done a good job.
If she has done consistently well, it may be time to reward her with a bonus or salary increase. If her poor performance persists, consider looking for another FDW or finding alternatives to your household needs.
Plan her work
- Make sure your FD’Ws workload for each day is reasonable
- Check on your FDW occasionally and repeat your instructions and explanations where necessary
- Provide your FDW with a weekly or daily schedule. This will help your FDW plan her work better.
If childcare is one of her responsibilities, you should:
- Outline how general tasks such as babysitting should be performed
- Let her know your expectations for each task
- Tell her about any special requirements the child may have
If caring for the elderly or disabled is one of her responsibilities, ensure that the FDW is aware of:
- Any special dietary requirements
- How to handle any special needs of family members, such as physical needs or medications. Write down instructions that are more complex
If cooking is expected, discuss with her:
- Any special dietary requirements
- Your preferred recipes, ingredients and style of cooking
- Practical skills
Providing a Safe Working Environment for Your FDW
Employers are responsible for their FDWs’ safety. She may come from an environment that does not present the same dangers that you have learnt to deal with. Supervise your FDW closely so that she knows how to perform household chores safely. Go through the following with her:
Safety in high-rise buildings
If you live in a high-rise building, your FDW must take extra precautions when:
- a) Hanging Laundry
- Keep feet firmly on the floor, and the body is inside the apartment.
- Hang heavier clothes closer to the bracket and lighter clothes at the far end of pole.
- Be extra careful when retrieving laundry when it is windy and / or raining.
- Do not stand on chairs, stools or any raised platform.
- Do not lean too far out of the window.
- Do not tip-toe when hanging laundry.
- Do not retrieve objects that have fallen onto the window ledge or platform.
- b) Cleaning Windows
Your FDW is allowed to clean window exterior (above ground level) only if she is supervised and window grilles are locked.
When cleaning the window exterior of homes above ground level:
- Ensure you or an adult representative is present to supervise
- Window grilles are installed and locked at all times. Use cleaning tools with extended handles.
- Do not clean window exterior above ground level if there are no window grilles
- Do not stand on chairs, stools or any raised platform.
- Do not lean too far out of the window
Employers must take necessary steps to eliminate the risks involved in other tasks by following the dos and don’ts covered in MOM’s guidebook and pamphlets.
Signing of Safety Agreement
- From 1 Dec 2012 onwards, Employment Agencies like us will be required to facilitate the signing of a safety agreement between employers and the FDWs, i.e. when new employment relationships are established, whether for first-time or transfer FDWs. For first-time FDWs, Employment Agencies like Jobs and Staff will facilitate the safety agreement after the FDW has attended the Settling-In-Programme, prior to the development of the FDW to the employer’s home. For transfer FDWs, we will facilitate the safety agreement prior to the development of the FDW to the employer’s home. Employment Agencies are not required to facilitate the safety agreement for renewals, i.e. when the employer is renewing the employment contract with her existing FDW.
- This agreement is to ensure that both employers and FDWs are aware and understand MOM’s requirements when cleaning the exterior of windows. The agreement lists MOM’s restrictions on the cleaning of window exterior and employers will state their requirement for the FDW to clean the window exterior in accordance to MOM’s regulations. The FDW will also acknowledge the employer’s requirement on cleaning the window exterior. To ensure FDWs understand, the agreement copy to be signed by the FDW will be in her native language.
- All three parties, i.e. EA, employer and FDW, will sign the safety agreement and each should keep a copy of the signed agreement.
Electrical and Fire Safety
We use different electrical appliances in our homes, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, microwave ovens, irons, etc. Improper use of such appliances can cause burns, serious injuries or even death. Make sure your FDW knows the following:
- a) Electrical Safety
- You should demonstrate how to use electrical appliances properly and safely
- After use, first switch off the appliance, turn off the socket switch, and then pull the plug out of the wall socket.
- Do not touch electrical appliances, switches, plugs and power points with wet hands.
- Do not overload electrical outlets by using too many plugs in one electrical socket.
- b) Fire Safety
- Keep petrol, paint and other inflammable materials in safe containers away from open flames and other sources of heat.
- Do not leave stoves and heated appliances unattended.
- Do not leave plastic bags, cloth, towels, paper or other inflammable material near lighted stoves.
Getting Your FDW Started
Help your FDW start on the right footing by going through the checklist below.
- a) Job Duties
Although your helper may have the experience, it is good to go through her job duties with her, as you may have different expectations from her. Provide a daily or weekly schedule if possible.
- b) Safety
Go through household safety procedures with your FDW.
- c) Hygiene
Ensure that your FDW understands your expectations of her, for example:
- Hygiene in preparing food and drinks
- Cleanliness at home
- Tips to prevent the spread of common illnesses (for e.g, a cold or flu)
- d)Terms and Conditions of Employment
Explain the terms and conditions in the employment contract including:
- Salary and mode of payment
- Rest days
- Medical benefits
- Scope of duties
- e) Emergency telephone numbers
Your FDW should know how to get help in an emergency. Give her a list of emergency telephone numbers, such as:
- Your mobile phone / office number
- Contact numbers of other family members in case of emergency and she can’t get you
- Ambulance services
- Fire station
- f) First aid
Your FDW should be taught how to handle minor injuries.
- Treating minor cuts and bruises
- Using common drugs and medications (for eg, cough syrup, Panadol)
- When to call for an ambulance
- g) FDW’s Legal Obligations
Ensure that your FDW understands her obligations under the Work Permit Conditions.
- h) About Singapore
Give her an overview of Singapore culture and your lifestyle. For example:
- Your working hours and daily schedule
- The different races in Singapore
- Some local customs
- Public transport
- Banking services
Remember, a happy helper is a productive helper. A happy helper may just go the extra mile to help you look after your family well, and treat your baby like her own baby, and your parents like her parents.