Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Nguyễn Thị Hoa is 44 and has three children, the youngest of whom is 16 years old. She has been working as a domestic helper over the past 10 years, with the hope of earning enough money to support her family’s day-to-day life and her children’s education, and to save for the future.
As a domestic helper, Hoa will be looking after someone else’s family, leaving her own children in the care of her relatives. She will only be able to see her children once every three months. But she has decided to not return home for the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday as the family she works for has offered a large sum if she stays during the holidays.
"They have promised to pay VNĐ5 million (US$220) for 7 days of work during Tết, equal to an entire month’s salary," she said, adding that she would go home after the holiday.
The demand for domestic helpers in big cities such as Hà Nội surges during the run up to Tết, and the cost of hiring help has sky-rocketed as well, according to Nguyễn Văn Thắng, an official at a job agency in the capital city.
Many families require domestic helpers to clean and do household chores as the Lunar New Year approaches, he said.
"People are going to enjoy a long holiday so many consumers are willing to pay up to 700,000 (US$31) per day," he said.
Nguyễn Thu Lan, a resident on Hà Nội City’s Thái Hà Street, was worried about doing household chores and preparing things for the New Year holiday, so she had tried to persuade her helper to live with her family. But she failed.
“Learning from my experience last Tết, I have contacted several services to hire a part-time domestic helper to help me take care of my twin boys,” she said.
“Although the pay for part-time helpers during Tết is VNĐ80,000 per hour, I have no choice,” Lan said, adding that being a nurse, she has to work even during Tết.
In addition to the increased demand for domestic helpers, the demand for caregivers at hospital was also on the rise during Tết, Thắng said.
A caregiver could receive VNĐ500,000 ($222) per day, he said.
Despite the offer of a high salary, it was still difficult to find enough helpers during the holidays, he added.
Nguyễn Thu Minh, an administrator at a job agency in Thanh Xuân District, said the company received dozens of requests but were only able to meet one fourth of the demand due to the shortage of labourers.
Families who wanted to hire helpers during Tết had to contact the company half a month or even a month before the holiday, she said.
To recruit enough labourers, besides offering them adequate payment, between 5 and 7 times higher than normal, job agencies have introduced promotional programmes, like promising jobs immediately or without recruitment documents.
Normally, domestic helpers were asked by job agencies to submit several documents to ensure their legal status and prevent the contractors from taking part in criminal activities, Thắng said.
However, to make it more convenient for labourers, he said, the agency might just ask them to hand in a copy of their identity cards or students cards.
Not only were job agencies in a race to employ labourers, many families in Hà Nội were facing a “headache” on how to keep their house helpers during and after the holiday.
Nguyễn Hưong Giang, a bank clerk, said she had managed to persuade her helper to stay with her family, after her father suffered a stroke recently.
In addition to a monthly salary, Giang has promised a bonus of VNĐ3 million (US$133) to the helper as well as some gifts for her relatives.
“Most domestic helpers are migrant workers, they return to their hometowns for the big holiday. They tend to stay at home and look for jobs in the local area or switch to other families after Tết,” said Lê Thị Thu, a trader in Hà Nội.
Thus, she said, besides offering lucky money to the helpers, she would drive them home and pick them up after Tết to ensure they would not quit the jobs. -- VNS