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July 8, 2010

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Maid salaries fluster families

SOME families in the city are having troubles with their domestic helpers who are often asking for pay raises.

Part of the problem is that it's summer and there is an annual shortage of maids at this time of the year. Another problem is that there are no standard contracts for ayis, leaving both families and maids without any guidelines to follow.

Ruan Xiaojian said her family's ayi was asking for pay raises every two months because her maid found out that other domestic helpers were getting paid more than her.

Ruan said others in her neighborhood had the same problem as ayis were exchanging salary information amongst each other and were "threatening" to resign if employers refused their requests.

"If she did a good job, I wouldn't hesitate to increase her salary," Ruan said. "But in fact she was not satisfactory at all."

The Shanghai Household Association said domestic helpers have a strong social network and they routinely compare salaries with one another.

The official said it will promote a sample contract soon in order to offer guidelines on payment that will benefit both ayis and their employers.

"Household service companies are responsible for managing ayis," said Chen Xizhu, director of the association. "But some ayis still don't have good professional ethics. Therefore, we have to promote a contract sample to protect families.

"We have started publishing a guideline for hourly-paid ayis," Chen added. "But it's more complicated when a maid lives with the family because they don't have to pay rent, food or public utilities."

Chen also reminded families that if an ayi makes unfair requests, they can ask her household company for help.

Xia Jun, an official with the Shanghai Jialilai Household Service Co, said it's no surprise that ayis are asking for pay raises after finding out others are getting paid more for doing the same job.

It's even more obvious in summer because there are fewer ayis available, Xia said.

Shanghai Jialilai suggested employers offer 100 yuan (US$14.75) to 200 yuan more each month to their ayi during the summer since the job is more difficult in the hot weather.

Xia said they recommend a salary of 2,500 yuan a month for a full-time maid in local homes. They recommend a wage of 3,000 yuan a month for ayis working for foreign families as these maids usually have better language skills.


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