Many of us would wish to be treated fairly at our workplace, but how many of us treat our maids fairly?

Do you have a maid at home? And if so, do you allow them to have their own mobile phones?

Little did I know that this simple question would get such “heated” responses when I posed this question over dinner one night recently.

While some families said they saw no issues with it, others felt that the mobile phone would distract maids from their chores.

Are You Being Reasonable?

At the end of the day, everyone is an employee.

A netizen from Singapore, Suzanne Chew, illustrated this point by presenting the following example: when you work at your job in the office, you get to have breaks, where you would use your mobile phone to contact your family or friends.

However, when it comes to maids, the power dynamic is almost all in the hands of the owner.

“It’s as though maids are on call 24 hours a day,” she said. “How would you accept that from your own boss at the office? Would your boss in the office stop you from making a personal call during one of your several breaks during the day? There’s a reason why good bosses give breaks – a happy employee is a good worker. Maids are employees. Maybe a useful way of thinking about this is what you would want your own boss to do to you.”

According to her, this is an easy way for employers to know whether they’re being reasonable or not to their maids.

Some Say Mobiles Are Distracting

According to a report that appeared on the Straits Times, maids using their mobile phones is the top peeve employers have. So much so that some employers would request for maids who do not want to own mobile phones.

A poll of 670 maids in Singapore by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) showed that at least 70 per cent of them experienced communication restrictions, with more than 100 saying they have had their phones taken away.

Others Don’t See It As A Problem

A Neue reader, who wished only to be identified as Miss Tan, said she does not mind her maid having her own mobile phone.

“In fact, for my maid’s last birthday, I bought her one,” Miss Tan said, adding that WhatsApp has made life so much easier, especially when it comes to running errands.

“In this day and age, it’s not practical to expect maids not to have mobile phones. After all, it’s a way for them to keep in touch with their families back home,” she added.

Forbidden From Having Mobiles

An employer ‘jo_tresses’, shared her past experience in a forum of the Singapore Motherhood website.

“I tried to relax restrictions by letting a helper with handphone before and this was abused,” she said, adding that the maid had brought men home. “And when I checked her mobile, there were many more similar photos with different men taken in various areas of our house … she even used make up and wore our clothes and accessories.”

Since then, all her maids are not allowed to own personal mobile phones.

However, they are like family members, she said.

“For instance, they sit down with us on the same table during lunches and dinners (we usually skip breakfasts). They could have the meal earlier if we work late. If we do supper, they are free to join us. They will go out with us when we go shopping and we allow them to do their own shopping. We bring them on trips too. In the evenings, after chores are done, they are free to watch TV, call their family or rest.

“The few restrictions we had for them is to limit who they can befriend in Singapore and what they are allowed to spend on. After all, they are here to work to provide for their family back home. If they are going to spend majority of their pay on unnecessary items like movies, handphone bills, etc, and bring home similar amount of money after deduction of agent fees, they will be better off working back home as they will be near their family and friends.”

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you agree with what some of the employers said in this article? Where ever you are reading this article from around the world, we’d love to hear you thoughts on this? Do you think that not allowing maids to own personal mobile phones is something unreasonable? Drop us a line in the comments section below or reach out to Neue on social media on Facebook or Instagram.