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What can I do if my helper is in debt?

Debt can understandably be stressful, for your helper and yourself as well. After all, a financially secure employee is certainly happy and focused in her work. It is important to understand that some level of debt is to be expected; for example, there is no point telling your helper that she is never allowed to take out a loan if she already has one. Also, many of us need a loan at some point - for example, if you’re purchasing a house or have a medical emergency.  

There are some things that you can do to understand the situation and ensure your helper is supported:

  • Sit down with your helper to discuss the reasons for her financial hardship and possible solutions in a calm and non-intimidating manner. 

  • Offer her the option of financial education with Enrich, so that she can learn to plan ahead and avoid needing to take unnecessary loans in future. If she has taken out multiple loans, then this is a clear sign that she needs support in managing her finances. 

  • Make sure she gets professional advice - suggest meeting Enrich for a confidential one-to-one financial counselling session. We provide impartial advice and will help her evaluate her finances and come up with a plan to move forward. 

  • If the situation has escalated and she needs legal advice, she can contact Help for Domestic Workers, Mission for Migrant Workers or the Duty Lawyer Service for free legal support.

Note: if you learn about your helper’s loan through a call or letter from a loan shark, it is important to stay calm and understand the circumstances. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your helper has intentionally hidden this loan from you, and there could be broader context (e.g. she has signed as a guarantor for a friend’s loan). Often helpers are afraid to discuss their financial situations with their employers in case they are terminated, or they don’t know if they should bring it up. Helpers and even their families back home can be victims of harassment from loan sharks. However, terminating her should not be the first option, and working together to resolve the issue can result in a better relationship with your helper.