How can I hire and manage a domestic helper ethically?
Being an employer of a foreign domestic helper gives you a unique opportunity to make an impact on someone else’s family, while meeting the needs of your own household and lifestyle. The process can be complicated, as is anything involving a person’s wellbeing, so consider this as the ultimate guide to doing what’s right.
There are generally 5 stages in the employment process:
- Getting started
- Parting ways
Whether you are already employing a domestic helper, planning to hire one, or in the process of terminating the contract, it’s never too late to seek and apply these employment best practices.
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It’s possible to have a long-term, positive working relationship with your domestic helper. However, it requires both of you to put in the effort and learn each other’s preferences. Recognize that domestic helpers will have different capabilities and experiences regardless of how long they’ve been working.
Here are several ways you can prepare yourself as you think about hiring a domestic helper:
- Taking a management approach
- Understanding your management style as an employer of a domestic helper
- Identifying your priorities and articulating these to the worker
To hire successfully, you must be prepared to address some of the domestic helper’s expectations. Like all other employees, they may negotiate their salary, ask about the working (and living) conditions, as well as the other members of the household whom they will be working for.
It is important to talk about this during the interview process to ensure that the domestic helper understands the job description and expectations are aligned to the role. Whether you find the helper on your own or ask the help of an agency, here are several pointers you should consider before giving the job offer.
- Choosing a fair and ethical agency
- Determining the cost of hiring
- Creating a job description
- Conducting the job interview
At this stage, you have successfully hired your domestic helper. However, it doesn’t immediately determine your success in keeping the domestic helper, since the real work begins once he/she begins the contract and works at your home.
Your role as a manager starts the moment you welcome the domestic helper into your home, so the first few weeks will be crucial in establishing your style and approach. Even an experienced helper will need time to adjust to you and your family’s preferences, so being patient throughout this onboarding period will also determine the success of your working relationship.
Become an effective manager by reading through our tips below:
- Preparing for the arrival of your domestic helper
- Meeting your helper on the first day of work
- Communicating instructions
- Providing and receiving feedback
When it comes to management, discard the idea of “common sense” and make sure to be specific with your instructions and expectations. Your goal as a manager is to make sure your helper is aware of their tasks and priorities, so that you can manage their performance more clearly.
If your circumstances change throughout the two -year contract, the helper’s duties may also differ, so plan their training and development as you would for any employment experience. Remember, managing a domestic helper is a unique experience, and the ethical approach will be even more different. Be patient with yourself and take your time to learn from our guides below.
- Providing a helper’s schedule
- Paying salary and bonuses
- Observing statutory holidays and the helper’s rest days
- Paying for domestic helper insurance
- Planning their training on cooking, childcare, and eldercare
If your helper’s situation changes unexpectedly, what should you do then?
- Illness and hospitalization: Be responsible for medical expenses
- Debt problems: Seek financial counselling support
- Pregnancy: Seek legal, safe and practical arrangements
When the employer and domestic helper do not wish to renew a contract, parting ways is the natural last step of the employment process.
There are important points to consider when ending the working relationship as ethically as possible.
Settle all items such as salary, food & travel allowance, flight tickets, any untaken annual leave and severance payments (if applicable).
Keep records and acknowledgment receipts between employer and domestic helper. Remember that the helper can refuse to sign any document that they disagree with or do not understand.
Everything you need to know about the termination of a domestic helper contract can be found here.