Her maid’s outfits gradually grew shorter — as did Zoe Tay’s patience. In a recent episode of the Mediacorp talk show The Zoe and Liang Show, Zoe Tay shared an anecdote about a maid she hired who forced her to lay down the law at home.
“My maid wore shorter and shorter outfits… When she first came, she was obedient, but after a few years, she started behaving [more comfortably] at home,” the 55-year-old shared with co-host Guo Liang and guest Kym Ng.
“When I looked up at her from downstairs, I saw her and I went ‘woah!’ I told her that when she was working, her shorts should at least reach [the top of their knees].
“It’s a home and my home is full of boys, so what she wore was outrageous,” said Zoe Tay, who has three sons.
Telling her helper that what she was wearing was “no good”, Zoe Tay then set down some ground rules — for instance, the maid shouldn’t wear spaghetti straps.
She added: “I told her that if she worked at my home and didn’t comply with these rules and felt that it’d limit her freedom, she could call her agency and I wouldn’t mind if she worked elsewhere.”
Explaining her rationale behind the ultimatum set, Zoe said: “It’s fundamental respect for my family… When she’s in my home, there are rules here. I’ll treat her as a member of the family, so I hope we’ll respect each other.
“We won’t yell at her, we’ll be sure to give all three meals. If there’s anything she needs, she can tell us, and if there are problems within her family that she really can’t solve, she can tell us and we’ll try our best to help — but we’re not obliged to do so.”
This also extends to relationship problems that the maid might face, Zoe also stated.
“You shouldn’t take your relationship problems here,” Zoe said. “Don’t start a relationship here, I don’t think that’s appropriate. This is a responsibility that she should bear at work.”
‘Maids are needed in Singapore’
As the conversation progressed to cover what it was like working with and without maids, Guo Liang also took the opportunity to ask the question: “Can Singaporeans do without maids?”
Adding on to his question, the 54-year-old also considered the “panic among the public” that had occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic when it was difficult and costly to hire a maid.
Citing transfer costs of $8,000 to $10,000, Guo Liang said that these prices showed “maids are needed in Singapore”.
Kym, 55, added: “It’s because of our lifestyle — we have to raise the children and both parents have to work. If parents don’t have someone to look after their kids, how can they go on working? In order to live, you need a maid.”
Sharing his perspective and advice for those looking for a good helper, Guo Liang said that maids do what they do for the sake of income.
Because of that, there shouldn’t be unrealistic expectations of them. Instead, what employers should do is set clear targets that their maids should meet given the salary they’re paid. Should they fall short, employers should voice their opinions.
“But you can’t expect her to do things perfectly,” Guo Liang added. “She’ll never be like your own mother, who’s infinitely committed.”
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