Ayi (maid)

(07/26/2007)

Many foreigners who live in Shanghai hire a local maid -Ayi - to take care of their houses, children and pets.

Ayis can be either part-time and full-time. Part-time Ayis may work for several families a day while full-time ayis work five to 10 hours a day, depending on the daily housework and may live in your house.

With an hourly pay from 7 yuan (88 US cents) to 15 yuan or more (the price may differ from place to place), you may find a dutiful part-time Ayi to accomplish most of your daily housework, and even prepare a delicious in Chinese dinner for you every day.

In general, if you stay in an apartment which has two or three rooms, a part-time Ayi for two or three hours a day will suffice. However, if you have a villa or large house and stay with your family, one or two full-time Ayis will be necessary. Some people may even hire three -- one for cooking, one for cleaning and the other for children and pets. Those full-time Ayis will cost you 1,000 to 2,000 yuan a month, depending on their role.

Normally, Ayis may have one or two rest days in a week, no matter whether they are part-time or full-time. If you have a party or anything like that on their rest day, especially at the weekend, most Ayis will help you to prepare for such an event. Don't forget to thank them for their help, because it's not their obligation.

Both part-time and full-time Ayis may have holidays at least once a year -- usually during Chinese New Year or the golden weeks in May and October. They may have a week-long holiday at Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and two or three days off for May Day and National Day in October. As most of the Ayis are from rural areas, they will return to their hometown in their holidays. If you hire a Shanghai Ayi, she may be willing to shorten her holiday. However, it's not her obligation, so don't forget to reward her.

Warning! Ayis have been known to use fake ID cards and commit crimes from theft to kidnapping. So you should ensure your Ayi is qualified by using a reputable agency or getting a recommendation from your close friends or colleagues.

Most Ayis are unable to speak any English. An English-speaking Ayi, which is not easy to find, will cost considerable more. So, you should know how to communicate with your Ayi. Learning some useful Chinese phrases or sentences will help. By the way, your kids may learn more Chinese, especially the dialect in your Ayi's hometown, than you from your Ayi.

You should be patient and teach your new Ayi to clean vegetables, operate washing machines and cook in the Western way, even if she has years of working experience, which may not meet your demands.

It will be better to write a schedule for your Ayi every day. However you should make sure your Ayi understands your instructions and rules. If you have a Chinese assistant or secretary, who is willing to be your part-time interpreter or translator, it will be ok.

You should be clear whether your Ayi can tackle emergencies or accidents. If she has no idea about it, you should make an emergency plan for her, which contains the contact of the hospital, your insurance cover, the correct way to deal with fire or other emergencies in your house and how to take care for your family if they are ill or meet with an accident. If you have a pet, you should also tell your Ayi which vet you prefer.

Write the plan in Chinese. You may need help with this from your Chinese colleagues or neighbors.

Ayis job should be covered by workers' compensation insurance or you should compensate them for lost working hours. Many insurance companies in the city have Ayi insurance.