I want to discuss an interesting subject today. Here I was browsing through Facebook the other day. I then came across a post by someone in a business group. The post read, “looking for a maid. Salary 20 USD…”; they also included their contact details. What started as just a simple post sparked an interesting discussion which I want to talk about in this article. By ‘maid’ I am referring to the domestic worker – just in case some of you reading might not be used to the term. Anyways, let us get into our discussion.
My Response To The Post
My Theme Point – Do Not Hire If You Cannot Afford
Unfortunately, it seems later on the post was taken down by the person who posted it. Otherwise, I could have quoted the exact words I used in my response. Remember this is a discussion we are having so I am giving you my opinion on the matter. In my response, I mentioned that I felt that US$20 per month was the equivalent of modern-day slavery. I even asked people to genuinely answer two questions that I posed to them. Would you be OK with being given such a salary as a maid? Would you be OK with your child being given that amount as a maid?
I really did not get any answers to those questions because most people were busy defending the US$20 salary. I also mentioned that simply because something is widely practised does not necessarily make it right. I also said that people ought to practise empathy in their dealings with people. My overall statement was that people should not hire maids if they do not afford them.
What Others Had To Say
As I have already hinted on, many people justified the US$20 salary. I even said that it was most likely those defending it actually pay their maid that much. The recurrent justification for the salary was the state of the economy and how civil servants are not paid enough. As much as there were those saying the US$20 salary is justifiable there were also those who denounced it. A considerable number of people shared my exact sentiments.
Those justifying the salary also threw in an interesting point. They said that a live-in maid does not pay rent and other basic utilities. They also said that they even do not buy food which is provided for them. Thus they were saying that the US$20 is justifiable because the maid literally has no utilities to pay. It is a powerful point right?
Well, I still felt that it was not solid enough especially when you consider the workload of most of these maids. Live-in maids are typically subjected to ridiculous amounts of workload which I believe are far-removed from the ultimate salary. There are maids I have seen that are expected to always be on their feet and even if they get the food they are given substandard food. I have seen maids required to eat food that is different from what the host family eats. (I am not saying this to say all live-in maids are mistreated; the truth is most of them are).
The Zimbabwean Government’s Take On This
Earlier this year according to SI 139 of 2020, the government stipulated domestic worker salaries in Zimbabwe. The salaries were as follows:
Yard worker or gardener – ZWL$7000
Cook or housekeeper – ZWL$945
Childminder or disabled or aged minder – ZWL$922.25
Disabled or aged minder with certification – ZWL$1042
Using the prevailing interbank exchange rates at the time, US$1 was equivalent to ZW$L24. Thus, for instance, it meant the salary for a cook or housekeeper was put at roughly US$40 (just rounded it off).
This means the salary mentioned in the post that started this discussion fell short of the government gazetted salary. Anyways, many still feel the government gazetted salaries are too little for maids especially given their workload. It is a contentious issue really, so many variables.
What is the conclusion of the matter then? It is apparent there are strong arguments from both sides. Personally, I still maintain that domestic worker salaries in Zimbabwe are too low. Of course, you can justify them based on the economy and people’s income levels. That still, for me, does not erode the fact they are not being adequately paid – that is my take. What is your take? Kindly share with us your thoughts in the comments below.
You have done yourself credit to an area often misunderstood. Thank you sir I appreciate this article.
Much appreciated. Thank You…
You have to look at the wages of the employer not only one side. The issue of workload is neither here nor there since remuneration is not based on workload but on other considerations otherwise those who load cement or maize would be some of the highest paid.
Thanks for the feedback. Looking at the wages of the employer would open a can of worms because we would then have to look at their employer’s earnings and that would take us to their customers and so on. On workload people should be paid for work done, just because loading cement is physically demanding doesn’t make it harder work than cooking or cleaning.