Supporting your foreign domestic helper (maid) through personal difficulty
Published on 17 Dec 2023, last updated on 2 Feb 2024
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Working abroad often comes with significant personal sacrifices. Migrant domestic helpers (maid) face unique emotional hurdles due to being away from family during important events, doing life and working abroad without typical family and friend support, and potential communication barriers. Recognising these challenges can help employers provide sensitive and effective support.
Life events like the death of a loved one, a family member's illness, missing a child's graduation, or a spouse’s infidelity can be intensely emotional. Here are ways to support your helper during these times:
- Open communication: Create a safe space for your worker to openly share their feelings and struggles. Show genuine empathy and offer a listening ear without judgement.
- Afford flexibility: Allow increased phone calls or video chats with family and friends during critical moments. If your worker usually works 1-2 of her rest days a month, consider providing more regular rest days temporarily for her to connect with her community for comfort and support. Consider offering additional leave if necessary such as emergency and compassionate leave usually afforded to white collar professionals.
- Cultural sensitivity: Be mindful of potential cultural differences regarding grief, celebration, or communication styles. Avoid imposing your own cultural expectations and acknowledge different perspectives.
- Emotional support: Share resources for grief counselling or emotional support services accessible to them in their native language.
In some situations, it's important to know when to seek additional support. Agencies specialising in migrant worker well-being can offer valuable guidance and resources. At Pinkcollar, we advise employers to reach out if:
- The worker's emotional distress significantly impacts her work performance or well-being
- Cultural differences create communication barriers that hinder effective problem-solving
- The employer feels overwhelmed or lacks the resources to adequately support the worker
By taking these actionable steps, you can build a supportive and understanding relationship with your migrant domestic worker, helping them navigate the emotional challenges of being away from home while ensuring a comfortable and productive work environment for both of you. Remember, even small gestures of empathy and support can make a significant difference in their well-being and the quality of your working relationship