Indonesian domestic worker to sue ‘Tan Sri’ for 12 years’ unpaid wages
Published: Dec 22, 2021 9:05 AM⋅Updated: 10:16 AM
Following her brave escape from a Kota Damansara house where she allegedly worked without wages for the past 12 years, a domestic worker was dealt a further blow for apparently not giving her employer a two-week termination notice.
The domestic worker, who declined to be named, sought refuge with the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur the very same day she fled her 18-hour per day employment with a wealthy employer, said to be a Tan Sri in his 70s.
An embassy spokesperson said they had engaged a lawyer to issue a letter of demand to the employer, claiming the domestic worker’s unpaid wages totalled RM106,000.
After the letter was sent, her former employer’s son responded by filing a claim with the Labour Department for payment in lieu of a 14-day termination notice.
“The RM500 claim is estimated to be the sum equal to the salary that the domestic worker would have earned during the 14-day notice period,” said the spokesperson, adding that the domestic worker was the last and longest-serving of three domestic workers who had fled the same residence in the past three years.
The embassy and domestic worker are withholding the name of the employer for legal reasons.
The petite domestic worker, who is less than 1.5m tall, said she tolerated 12 years of constant berating, perpetual physical fatigue and was even slapped by her employer on an occasion when she misplaced a medicinal tablet.
In a small voice, she described how there was rarely any personal time or time to rest, and for the first seven years, she managed her chores for the family of six adults and two infants in a large five-bedroom house, alone, until she asked to be allowed to return home along with her wages.
“They told me to wait for a replacement but, when another worker was employed in 2016, I never got a response every time I asked for my salary or to return home.
“By 2019, my replacement had fled the household and another replacement was employed the same year.
“I never dared run away because I was afraid of being caught by the authorities or falling prey to unsavoury characters but, when my second replacement suggested we leave, I didn’t hesitate because she had a plan,” she said as she recalled leaving the house through the back door with her belongings packed into two black garbage bags, while her employer took an afternoon nap in front of the television.
Relieved to be under the shelter of the embassy, the domestic worker said she had finally called her parents again who had asked her to return home immediately but she did not want to leave without her hard-earned wages.
Interestingly, the embassy has managed to secure the back wages of the other two employees who fled this wealthy employer’s household.
According to its spokesperson, the embassy was also at various stages of mediation and civil proceedings to claim the back wages of four other domestic workers – all of whom have worked for their employers without pay for more than five years.