Domestic workers gather in Central, Hong Kong. Photo: iStock

What kind of relationship should an employer have with a domestic worker? A Hong Kong columnist surnamed Pang who writes on parenting issues shared her recent experience on Ming Pao Daily, and said mutual understanding could improve the relationship, especially when your maid gets sick.

A Filipino domestic worker named Ate, who is a Muslim, had been working for Pang’s family for less than a year. Before coming to Hong Kong, she worked for a big Indian family who lived in a 5,000-square-f00t (465-square-meter) house in Malaysia.

Recently, members of Pang’s family got sick one after another because of an influenza outbreak. Her son became so seriously ill that he needed to be admitted to hospital.

At this point, Ate finally recognized the seriousness of the flu virus and agreed to listen to Pang’s advice. She abandoned her traditional “secret” herbal tea, went to a doctor and and took modern medication.

Pang said that when her son was released from the hospital, she found that Ate had been confining herself in her room, as the doctor had ordered her not to spread the virus around, so she did not dare to go into the kitchen and prepare any food for herself because she did not want to see her employers get sick again.

Pang then realized that Ate had only had fruits and bread to eat over the past few days while she and her husband were staying in the hospital to take care of their son. Upon this realization, Pang decided to prepare dinner for her.

Ate was touched and cried when she saw Pang had cooked for her.

Working far away from home and family, when a domestic worker gets sick, the only comfort she gets is from phone calls from home. If her own children get sick, there is no way she can take care of them, not even give them a hug.

Pang advised employers to show empathy for their domestic workers. When they get sick, ask them to rest properly, or prepare food for them. In that way, the employer-employee relationship will improve.

Read: Employers advised to think from maids’ perspective

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