Young but married, the salary of these helpers are important ways of earning money for their family back home. However, what would you do if you found out that your helper was pregnant?
An unplanned pregnancy and in a country far from home, what is the best decision you can make for someone you consider your family member?
Carol*, 35-year-old self-employed mum shares her story:
Janice* has been with my family for slightly over 2 years. When we first picked her up from the agency, we were thrilled with her English speaking capabilities and work ethics she described and displayed. She was hardworking, diligent and was most importantly, great with kids. My two children, one aged 5 and the other aged 7, loved Janice and the calming lullabies she sang to them.
One day, when Janice mentioned to my husband and I that she was intending to go back home to get married to her long-time boyfriend, we were truly pleased and excited on for her. Of course, we were curious as to whether she was intending to come back to work for us.
Sensing our hesitation to ask, Janice voiced out her intentions to continue working even after her marriage. Confident she would know how to make things work, we let her return home with a heavy but proud heart.
One month passed quickly and before we knew it, we were on our way to the airport to pick her up. Embracing her as we met, I could sense that there was something different about her, something just didn’t feel right, but I brushed it off quickly.
The days went by faster with her helping out with the children and the housework, but for some reason I again started to feel that there was something different about her after her return. She was quieter, less active and easily tired out. In the past, she used to call home after the boys went to sleep. Like a child missing her mother’s voice, we let her use the home phone to keep in constant touch with her family back home.
This time, she rarely called home and went to bed early, at the same time as our boys did. At one point of time, my husband and I were worried she had fallen ill or that something was bothering her, something that she was not comfortable to share with us.
As the days passed, her working hours became shorter, she became lazier and at that time she had put on some weight. Not taking too much notice of her physical appearance, we decided to leave her to sort out her own problems. But one day, we caught her crying in the kitchen toilet, her hand phone in one hand, a packet of tissue in another.
After much persuasion, she finally revealed to us what was bothering her this whole while. An unplanned pregnancy.
Shocked and at wits end, we asked her whether her husband knew about it, and what he thought about her continuing to work with us. In tears, she told us that her family was dependent on her income (from working in Singapore) and going home meant they would be tight on cash even when the baby arrived.
We were shocked and torn as to what to do. Should we send her home to be with her family or should we allow her to continue working till she is ready to deliver the child? Will she even be fit to work as she may need more rest as the months go by.
While we had heard stories of many helpers with local boyfriends and the fear of families when they found out about the relationship, this was a whole new matter. She was pregnant, but still wanting to work for the need of money.
My husband felt that while she needed the money as living expenses for her family, it was best that we sent her back with some extra money till she delivers. On the other hand, I felt that it was not her fault for this unplanned pregnancy to have happened and we knew her work ethic was strong- she wouldn’t have problems coping with the workload (if her pregnancy went along smoothly) and she could therefore secure her salary for her expenses- so shouldn’t we keep her?
(Story as told to Pavin Chopra)
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved
MOM has very clear-cut rules about maids getting pregnant while working in Singapore.
Under MOM regulations, those on work permits cannot become pregnant or give birth here unless they are married to Singapore citizens or permanent residents with the government’s permission.
What should employers do if their maid gets pregnant?
It is very rare for a maid to come to her employer about her pregnancy, unless she has been with the family for years.
If faced with this situation, employers should inform MOM and terminate the helper’s contract. However, some employers do make arrangements to send their helpers for abortions.
Mummies, have you faces a similar situation? Do share with us!