3 Out of 10 Maids Rejecting Employers Because Of CCTVs In Their Homes

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Make no mistake; technology has affected our lives.

Granted, it might not be quite as large an influence as those in Terminator, but it definitely plays a big part in ours.

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In fact, if you just look around you, you’ll probably see someone concentrating intensely on their smartphone, with a greasy nose rubbing up and down on the screen.

Image: Travel Weekly

And maids aren’t any different, either. With the recent influx of technology, they’ve also moved with the times. Though, unlike many of us, technology didn’t quite work for them.

It worked against them.

Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras

In the last two years, there have been a number of reported cases about maids violating the law at home, such as theft and abuse of young children and the elderly.

And rather coincidentally, they have only been exposed thanks to the availability of CCTV cameras, which is perhaps why employers are so taken with it.

In fact, according to Channel News Asia, a study in 2015 showed that at least one in five domestic workers n Singapore is residing with CCTV cameras at their workplace.

But it seems that maids are against this latest development, with an estimated three out of every ten cases rejecting job offers from employers with CCTV cameras at home.


Several house helpers have previously spoken out about the situation, stating that it was nothing short of an invasion of privacy.

One pointed out that the cameras made her uncomfortable, and that if the employers “don’t trust anyone else”… they shouldn’t “hire maids”.

(Hmm…trust is earned, no?)

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Another spoke about how there were cameras everywhere, in the living room, master bedroom and even her own room. In elaboration, she expressed how there was one time her employer’s son climbed on top of the coffee table, and she swiftly got a call from her irate employee asking her to not “let the boy sit on the table”.

“In my heart, I was like ‘Oh my god, they saw me on the CCTV’,” she recounted.

And it didn’t end there. According to her, who wants to be known only as ‘Rita’, the phone would ring when she sat down for a while, and she’d be asked: “Why do you keep sitting down?”

And even when she headed to the toilet, she’d get a call asking why she “took so long”. The employer must have nothing to do at work #justsaying

Anyways, thereafter, Rita requested the agency for a change of employer when her contract terminated.

Is it even legal?

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the rulebook states that the employer “must inform the domestic worker of the cameras’ locations, and these must not be areas that would compromise her privacy or modesty, such as where she sleeps or changes clothes, or in the toilets”.

And lawyer Steve Tan from Rajah & Tann thinks it’s perfectly legal to record the activities of a household, including the maid.

“This is called the personal or domestic exemption,” said Tan. “That means that anything the home-owner does, in terms of the collection of personal data such as CCTV images in a personal or domestic context, would not need to comply with the general data protection law.”

However, areas with an impending “state of undress” are definitely a no-no.

“If you do something with the intention to insult the modesty of a woman, by intruding into that private space of that woman, it announces criminal offence.”

Like, say, toilet?

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Safety, or just invasion of privacy?

While the installation of CCTVs no doubt lends a sense of security to parents and household members, it also presents a sense of discomfort to the maids in question. I mean; it’s pretty easy to decipher: would you like a security camera recording your every movement?

I think not.

As such, this question is pretty open for debate, and while I’m keen to lean towards one side, existing factors prevent me from completely swaying over. But enough about me…

What do you think?

Technology: it is indeed the double-edged sword that we need but don’t deserve.

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