By Juliet Ugay
If you are an employer and you found out that your domestic worker wore your bikini or your personal belongings on one of her days off, what would you do?
This is the question that one of my friends, who employes a domestic worker, asked me when I bumped into her in a mall one day. She then asked me what I, since I am a domestic worker myself, would do if my employer found out I had been wearing her personal things?
For a moment I stared at her while absorbing what she asked. My initial response was, that it is a bit crazy. She told me that her friend’s helper posted a photograph on her Facebook page of herself wearing her employer’s bikini. She had found it out through a domestic worker of another friend, who happened to be a mutual friend on Facebook. She was so shocked to learn about it, and asked her friends around what would be the best thing to do with her domestic worker. Most of her friends advised her to talk to the domestic worker first. Some of her friends told her to terminate the domestic worker’s work permit because they thought that her actions were a bit over the top. It can be considered stealing, as well as breaking her trust.
I have asked some of my fellow domestic worker what their thoughts are about the matter. All of them said that it is really inappropriate to use your employer’s belongings without their permission. Some of them said that the domestic worker must apologise to her employer, and ask them to give her another chance, while some said it’s better to look for another employer, because it will be very awkward to work with them after what happened.
I also asked Jolovan Wham, executive director of HOME if this would be enough reason to terminate the domestic worker’s work permit. He said he does not personally think it should be. But then again, in Singapore an employer has the right to terminate the domestic worker’s work permit for whatever reason there is.
To my fellow domestic workers; please refrain from posting similar situations like this on any social media, especially when you know there’s a not pleasant story behind the photos or statuses. We should think a few times before we do something, because we’ll never know whether our actions might create a long-term regret.