It’s a bit difficult. At Livinginindonesia Forum “maid wanted” posts are certainly outpacing “maids available.” Locals are also trying online maid recruitment this year. Off hand, it seems like it’s not a great idea. As Jakartans will be the first to tell you, when it comes to hiring domestic staff, if you don’t know her hometown and family, don’t hire her. However, if the initial Internet contact is followed up, as usual, with letters of reference and a background check, then why not look for household staff online.
After adjusting 2008 figures for inflation, expats in Jakarta self reported paying household staff Rp 1.6 — 2 mil in monthly wages (depending on head of staff, nanny, cook, etc.). For comparison, that’s roughly twice average wages for Indonesian domestic staff in Malaysia; about the same as some Indonesian maids make in Singapore; and 35% — 100% above Jakarta’s 2010 minimum wage (UMP).
Indonesians, meanwhile will try this year to find a good maid for 50% of Jakarta UMP, which is right now at Rp 1.18 mil. In other words, expats pay roughly three times as much as locals and still have (some) difficulty recruiting domestic staff.
So, from the numbers it shouldn’t be hard for expats in Jakarta to find household staff. But the reality is a little different. For example, sweeping a floor can involve more than knowledge of how to handle a broom. It may require knowing how to say “broom” in Korean or French. It may require knowing how often to sweep and how sweeping tasks rank in importance, as per the employer’s SOP, relative to other household tasks . In other words, domestic staff who work for expats perform their tasks within the fast-paced multi-lingual, multi-cultural work environment where the expats themselves are employed.
In addition, keep in mind the fact that the employer and employee often share a house (“live-in” maid). This creates the potential for psychological pitfalls in addition to cultural ones. Naturally it may take some time to find the right fit — or cocok as is it is invariably expressed in Indonesian.
Alternatively, in a live-out scenario, the staffer has presumably a fair commute (typically calculated in terms of how many buses it takes from home to work) from the more affordable areas Jakarta outskirts to the “central” areas (of which there are many) where expats typically reside. (In our case it’s 3 or 4 buses and this makes it even harder to find household staff.)
Nevertheless, from the perspective of the staffer, working for an affluent/expat family in Jakarta would presumably a good option, while working for a normal Indonesian family is a poor one.
So keep trying. Structurally, the expatriate-worker-hires-Indonesian-household-staff is win-win. But the recruiting work is just as much a headache as any other type. It may, in fact, be worse.