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BN Hot Topic: Housekeepers, Food & Blurry Boundaries 

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Some days ago, a Twitter user shared how she found out her housekeeper has been having 2 eggs with her breakfast every day. She also found out she (the housekeeper) has also been adding cheese slices to her breakfast. “Isn’t it too much?” She asked.

“It isn’t too much.”

“Ahan, it is too much.”

In the last few days, Twitter users have been for or against the housekeeper’s actions. First, let’s understand the context. According to Mrs Hisoka, her housekeeper works for 4 hours, between 8 am and 12 pm daily. Sometimes, she leaves at 9 am if there’s no laundry. So this isn’t a full-time job. It is a ‘come, do your thing and leave when you’re done’ situation.

Many people were against the maid’s actions. It is unprofessional, they said. If you are here to do a job, why are you eating people’s food without their permission? It is not a full-time job and you are not mandated to be present if you have nothing to do. So it’s a matter of working as swiftly as you can and leaving immediately. If you must eat, or you feel entitled to breakfast, isn’t it better to ask your employer and get their approval first?

From the economic angle, 2 eggs a day means the maid is eating about 2 crates a week. Add that to the cost of the cheese slices and the entire breakfast. It means that aside from the monthly payment, the employer is incurring extra expenses that were not bargained for. They believe the housekeeper should be professional enough to respect boundaries.

On the flip side, people said there was nothing wrong with the maid’s actions. Yes, she is being paid her salary, but an employee is also entitled to other perks asides salaries. In many workplaces, there are opportunities for growth, health insurance, paid leave, and even free lunch, and so on. Why can’t we extend this to unskilled workers also? Do we feel they are undeserving of such treatment? Why is eating eggs such a big deal?

Perhaps the biggest issue here is not the eggs or cheese slices but the lack of boundaries and poor communication. If we are comparing this situation to the average company-employee relationship, then we must understand that communication and boundaries are key. An employee who wants to join a company is made aware of its house styles, rules, regulations and boundaries. And when the employee veers off course, the company reminds them of its rules.

Can the same be applied to a house owner-housekeeper relationship? If feeding or feeding allowance is not negotiated into a contract, is the house help free to help themselves to food? If you wouldn’t eat two eggs per meal in your own home, what makes it okay to eat that in your employer’s home? How do you set boundaries with your housekeeper to ensure that everything they do has been agreed upon by both of you?

What would you do if you were in this Twitter user’s shoes? Communicate your grievances to your housekeeper or simply let her be? Let’s talk about it.



Photo by Polina Tankilevitch for Pexels

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