Half of the foreign domestic workers in Singapore quit their job within a year, and reasons for this could be employers being too harsh and demanding.

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, up to 53% of foreign domestic workers did not complete a year in a single household, Shin Min Daily News reported.

The retention rate this year dropped to 47% from 51% late last year.

K Jayprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore), said the first three months is the most challenging period for both the maid and employer.

Some employers were described as “too harsh”, as maids were expected to teach children English or to help with their homework, as well as clean a three-story house thoroughly every day. And when they cook, employers sometimes complained that their meals were too repetitive.

Meanwhile, some maids reportedly had unrealistic expectations about their employers. Some, for example, wanted a private room instead of sharing one with others in the family.

Others were found to be lazy or lacking compassion towards the elderly.

Jayprema stressed that both parties should be more understanding to one another, and strongly advised employers to give new maids at least three months to adapt to their new environment.

The possibility of a harmonic relationship between maids and employers was possible, she added, highlighting the case of a 53-year-old Indian maid named Ambika, who worked for her 62-year-old employer Selvamary for 18 years.

The employer told The New Paper that Ambika was never just a maid but someone they regarded as family.

Ambika, who will return to India next month, said she would never forget the care Selvamary had shown for her.