Basically, there are two types of domestic maid work can be found in practice in Malaysia namely, paid domestic work and unpaid domestic maid work.

While a maid is employed for doing sundry household tasks on the basis of agreed wage payment, the daily activities performed by the maid in the respective employer’s household may be termed as paid domestic work.

On the other hand,  the time spent by a male or female folk in different activities of the own household may be termed as unpaid domestic work.

Paid household work is always visible, but unpaid one is often invisible.

A United Nations report on women’s work patterns based on surveys made across countries of the world gives a summary of women’s devotion of time to both paid and unpaid economic activity.

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The findings are as under:

i) Women spend more of their time working than men folk in all developed and developing regions except northern America and Australia where the working hours are almost equal.

ii) In developing countries, women spend more time in the labour force than their household work. Men, by contrast, are spending less amount of time working in the labour force than before in all developed regions and slightly increasing amounts of time in housework in northern America, Australia, and Western Europe.

iii) In Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women work as on average 12 – 13 hours more than men per week.

iv) Men in developing regions generally do fewer household chores than men in the developed regions.

v) Women everywhere in the world have nearly total responsibility for housework.

While men ‘help out’ women retain the responsibility of housework.

Since the unpaid domestic workers do not manage all household tasks, often they have to employ an additional paid domestic maid worker in their household.

The demand for or dependency on paid domestic maids among middle-class families is on the rise because of the following reasons:

  1. Men spend very little time on their daily indoor household activities and a slow increase in household work by men. Hence, it becomes impossible to do all necessary household tasks by an unpaid female folk.
  2. While the woman of a household is employed, her husband does not show any substantial increase in the amount of family work they do. Obviously, dependency on paid domestic maid workers increases.


The general problems faced by the female domestic maids or servants at the workplace are as under:

i) The domestic workers or maids are not satisfied with their present wages and they expect more. It is true that the wage levels of domestic maids are much less than not only what they need, but also lower than their male counterparts who often do the almost comparable type of work.

ii) The workers often express their grievances for imposing extra work burden on the employers while guests come. The extra money for that additional work is not sufficient. A lump sum amount is paid for extra work. Often, the employer does not pay anything. 

iii) Few employers have a tendency to deduct wage for absence in work.

iv) The employers do not permit any extra leave. As a result, they have to attend work regularly leaving any urgent personal necessity.

v) Many workers face sexual harassment by their male employers. Verbal sexual harassment by the male employers is some thing that is generally very common. This is one of those problems at work place that only women face and it is probably one of the few problems that may be perpetuated by male employer.

vi) Most of the maid in Malaysia being less educated, the awareness to form a union is lacking among them. As there is no such domestic servants’ unions formed across the country, they cannot raise their voice against employers’ negative attitude.

vii) The real wages in the form of food, cloth etc.  are not sufficient. Sometimes quality of food provided by the employer is inferior.

viii) Often nature of work may vary from one day to another or volume of work rises day by day in the employers’ house. Then the workers have to do all tasks with initial agreed wages. The employers do not offer any extra wages for increasing workload. On the other hand, workers do not protest because of getting fired.

ix) So far as the annual increment of wages is concerned, a few domestic workers enjoy the benefit.

Source: Women as Paid Domestic Workers