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Helpers prefer not to work for Indian families???

  1. #1
    ngnhk is offline Registered User
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    Helpers prefer not to work for Indian families???

    I hope people can give me their thoughts on what might be a sensitive topic - we're expats but have been living in HK for a few years and are expecting a baby soon.

    We plan to start interviewing for our very first helper next month. We've talked to a couple of agents so far, just to get a feel for things. Now, my husband and I are both Indian by ethnicity but born and raised in the US and Canada in pretty Western environments. Because of this, we aren't too familiar with a lot of customs/lifestyle attributes in India. One of the agents told us point-blank that we're going to have a hard time finding a good helper, because "good helpers might have a problem working for Indian families." Seriously. He actually said that.

    He said that even though we are non-vegetarian (because being vegetarian is such a huge problem??) and wouldn't expect a helper to wash our clothes by hand, etc. (he gave a lot of "reasons" that helpers have given him that don't apply to us), a potential helper would still be put off because we are Indian and actually might not even want to meet us for an interview after seeing our names.

    ...has this been anybody's experience? Does this ridiculous mindset actually exist among helpers, and does anybody know why? I was just blown away - his attitude was basically "they like white people first, then local Chinese, then you - so good luck." I'm still shaking my head even typing this message. This same agent tried to set up one interview (that never happened because he never called us back) with "a girl who was okay working for an Indian family because she'd worked for one before." As if he couldn't possibly get anybody else who had not worked for an Indian family to even meet with us!

  2. #2
    justarlene is offline Registered User
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    Wow... Your agent seems a bit racist. My hubby's colleagues are Indian by ethnic and way of living. I don't see they have any problems. But you are so right..... Helpers here expect you to behave like most westerners which is to say giving them the easiest method to do. Washing machine, dish washer and other gadgets. I have to say don't be disheartened. There are so many stories about domestic helpers here. It was way so much different from Singapore. Sorry, I am an Indo who had been living in SG previously. The helpers in Singapore are humbler than those who are working here. :)
    Anyway, I am also getting a helper since we are expecting our first baby. I've just started my life in HK. It was a culture shock to see how the helpers here behave. I got a help from a friend who is an agent. Thus, we are getting my helper from Indo to help us out. Message me if you need more details :)

  3. #3
    miran is offline Registered User
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    Yes, have heard this through friends who have been told this by agents (or agencies). It might be an urban legend or as biases go it might have become firm in helpers' community. A few bad stories go a long way in establishing these biases. Having said that - these agents might just be ones working with expat families.We are Indian origin and from India and see a whole range of behavior at both employers' and helpers' end. This kind of generalization is absurd.

    Would suggest try other agents and better still try direct referrals. All the best.

  4. #4
    ngnhk is offline Registered User
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    Thanks to you both for your replies.

    Miran, have your friends been able to get good helpers to work for them in the end? Did it just take longer to find someone decent?

    I have also heard that if there is a dispute of any kind between an Indian employer and a helper (theft, etc.), the Hong Kong police will side with the helper, whereas if a helper has a dispute with a white expat or local Chinese employer, the police are on the employer's side. I wonder if I should just give up and declare that the whole system is against us!

  5. #5
    miran is offline Registered User
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    Yes, most people (including us) have got good helpers. Touchwood. Some of us went through asiaexpat / amah.net, others through different agencies, referrals etc. There are lot of good employers and helpers out there. This is very similar to the bias that Phillipino helpers are pricey or rude etc but I swear by mine :)

    Well - about system bias; it does exist to certain extent. Having said that I do know of two or three actual cases (one of helper forging cheques, one with employer-helper altercation, one in which employer was underpaying) - and the police was fair. The helper forging cheque got a jail sentence after full investigation; the altercation was amicably resolved with police taking neither side and the employer who was underpaying had to pay up the balance and got a rap (and fairly so).These stories are over a period on seven years though and by no way I mean that indian community has too many of such cases :)

    Biases do exist but very honestly the system is overall quite fair. And as in all employer-employee relationships sound paper work helps - like transfer salary into bank acct, take receipts, have decent workng hours etc. Personally - i would just ditch the agents who have this bias and look beyond.

  6. #6
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    it isn't just indians.... i had some helpers tell me point blank on the phone that they only wanted western employers, so weren't interested. i am a white english-speaking canadian, but my husband is local chinese.

  7. #7
    shwetakhanna is offline Registered User
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    Our helper also told this to me when he joined us that her friends have warned her she will have a tough time as she is going to work for an Indian family. But now, after being with for almost an year, she says she is very lucky to have such employers.
    This is a mindset with most of the experienced helpers here. They do not want Asian, ESP south-east Asian employers, should not be more than one baby/ kid, madam should be working etc.
    you need to explain it to them that this is not about race/ nationality. Different people/households have different working conditions, and most importantly, you need to explain it to them that you are not looking for slaves or any kind of labour. You are just looking for an educated and responsible individual to e your helper in your home.
    Good luck with your search.

  8. #8
    shwetakhanna is offline Registered User
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    The agency we used never had any such biases. And are good with follow ups as well. Please let me know if you need their details.

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