Considering sending your helper back to her native country for the holidays? Here’s what to expect.
We get it: Leading up to Christmas or Hanukkah, your never-ending to-do list – buying presents, booking airfare home, drinking heavily (kidding!) – may be keeping you up at night. So the prospect of organising your helper’s trip home may seem daunting. But planning your helper’s leave now means you can relax later. Plus, it’s a good way to build trust with your helper and show her your appreciation for work well done.
Helpers usually get two to four weeks of vacation time, depending on the relationship and agreement between you and her, explains Ivy Tan, Managing Director of APEX Human Resource Pte Ltd, a maid agency in Singapore. Apart from making sure that the helper’s work permit, passport and insurance are valid (check the expiration date on the respective documents), you may also have to process “home leave” documents at her embassy to avoid any problems when re-entering Singapore. “Book flights as early as you can, ideally two or three months in advance, to get the best possible deal,” Ivy suggests. Since most helpers don’t actually live in the city into which they fly, Ivy notes that you’ll also need to provide cash for the bus fare to reach her home.
Going The Extra Mile
Depending on how long your helper has been with you, you can choose to pay the helper her salary upfront in advance, with or without a holiday bonus. Tip: Some employers pay half the amount, as an “insurance” that the helper will return after the break to collect her remaining salary. Many employers also assist in easing their helper’s financial burden by giving her presents (such as clothes, toys or jewellery) for the extended family. This is entirely up to your discretion.
Holiday’s Over – Now What?
If your helper doesn’t come back on the agreed upon date or wants to extend her vacation, it is your prerogative as the employer to either allow the extension or to cancel her work permit (essentially, fire her). “Should you choose to allow her to return at a later date,” Ivy notes, “be prepared to bear extra expenses with re-booking the flight ticket.”
Expat Input: Readers like you reveal their personal experiences with sending a helper home.
“Our helper only went home for Christmas once, and decided herself that it was too busy and crowded at that time of the year, but above all, extremely expensive for her. Now she opts to go see family during the summer – when there is no major festival or celebration in her hometown.” – Kavita Borglin, Swedish, 24 years in Singapore
“Our helper had been with us six months when we sent her home for a holiday, since her dad’s health wasn’t good. We thought that she would feel more reassured and motivated after seeing him, so we helped her get the special permit required by the Indonesian Embassy to return to Singapore. However, 15 days later, she decided to return home for good and left us after we got another transfer maid.” – Shubhi Gupta, Indian, 3 years in Singapore
By Priyanka Elhence, The Finder, November 2015