Christmas Gifts and Bonuses for Helpers
The question of Christmas bonuses (or so-called ‘13th month payments’) is a tricky one because every family chooses to reward their helpers differently. During Diwali, many Indian households will have included their helpers by giving them gifts to honour this special celebration. For many Hong Kongers, Chinese New Year celebrations will be more significant and there are plenty of people for whom Christmas is not an important holiday.
At HelperChoice, we realise that as with many decisions regarding the treatment of domestic helpers, there is no hard and fast rule, other than to treat her with respect and dignity. For many Filipino helpers, Christmas is an important day because of their religious beliefs. It is a time when naturally their thoughts return to home and the family they seldom see. To recognise this, is to show your helper that you value the contribution she makes to your household.
So, if you celebrate Christmas in your home, we suggest you include your helper in the festivities, and that means some kind of gift is appropriate. A small, personal gift on Christmas day shows her that you acknowledge her service to your family and she will be grateful. Put yourself in her shoes: how would you feel if everyone at your work received gifts and a thank you note from your employer, but you receive nothing? Of course, your helper may be working alone, but she will compare her situation with previous employments or with her friends.
Encourage your children to decorate a card – she will really appreciate it if she spends a lot of time with them. Don’t treat your helper with indifference or as if she is “just the help.” Many domestic workers are proud of their work and service and they may not be perfect at everything, but don’t they also make your life easier?
How much you choose to give to your helper is up to you and the nature of your relationship with her. Many people assume that helpers prefer cash, but in our experience this is not always the case. Many will love the special treat of receiving cinema or restaurant vouchers. And of course, extra money for the family back home is always appreciated, but cash can be lost and it is actually quite expensive to wire abroad. One good alternative is to look out for remittance companies who don’t charge helpers to send money home via vouchers.
Helpers (or indeed, employers) can buy vouchers to be spent on groceries, medical and educational services, and other useful things. The service has the additional benefit of allowing helpers some degree of control over how their money is being spent.
Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. It is an opportunity to show these amazing women that we care about them and appreciate what they do for us. There is no obligation to award a bonus or give a gift: but it is the perfect time to say “thank you”.
HelperChoice is an online platform that connects helpers with hundreds of potential employers. Helpers can access job advertisements free of charge, and through its unique messaging service can directly contact potential employers to arrange information exchange and interviews. They are free to browse employers’ advertisements and to initiate contact. The service is equally easy to use for employers, who pay a fair fee to list their requirements on the site. Employers are also able to message helpers when profiles fit their requirements. Not only do employers have access to thousands of helpers through the database, they can rest assured that the helpers are not being exploited and do not have to pay to use the service.