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January 12, 2012

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Database of ayi backgrounds urged to aid in hiring

THE Shanghai Women's Federation is appealing to the government to establish an information service for people to track ayis' (domestic helpers) identities, work records and health certificates in order to get better household services.

A survey released by the Shanghai Quality Association showed people are highly concerned about thefts and poor services and would like access to identities and work histories of ayis they may hire. In the survey, which began last September, 3,145 family employers and 400 domestic helpers in Shanghai were interviewed.

More than 77 percent of the employers said that whether an ayi was safe and honest was the biggest worry when they hire one, followed by other worries including an ayi's health condition and service quality.

To solve the problem, the Shanghai Women's Federation proposed setting up a platform with independent databases for local residents to check registered household service agents and domestic helpers.

The survey showed only 26 percent of family employers hired ayis through agents while more than half said their ayis were recommended by friends and relatives. Dai Xiaoyun, an official with the federation and drafter of the proposal, said this was because local household service agents have a reputation for charging high fees but providing unsatisfying ayis.

Although household service agents should be responsible for checking ayis' identities, few of them could say how they do it. More than half of the interviewed ayis could not provide health certificates, which was deemed a potential threat to family members in case she was carrying an infectious disease.

Dai said nearly 98 percent of domestic helpers were female migrant workers from other cities, with living and hygiene habits different from locals.

"The platform will be an impeller to drive the industry to being more regulated," said Dai.

Dai said her group plans to publicize a black list of some bad agents in the city, based on quarterly evaluations and customer complaints.


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