Whether you are hiring a full time help or nanny to care for your young children, a part-timer to maintain your bungalow/flat, or a senior care provider to tend to an elderly parent, you are entrusting your help to take care of what you hold most precious – your loved ones, your property and your privacy.
But, there are many concerns and considerations involved with hiring a domestic employee in India – as most of these domestic workers constitute the unorganized/migrant labour population who enter households for their own financial or personal reasons.
Below we have compiled a hiring checklist to ensure that you employ the best help for work at home, allowing you a manageable balance between work and life.
The Hiring Checklist
Abide by Regulations: Before you hire any household help, know and abide by the local/state employment and labour laws stated by the Indian government. (Click here to understand – What does the Indian law say about domestic workers and their rights)
Seek Help from your Community, and People you know: One of the most reliable ways to find good help, is to first seek references from people you know. Ask around friends, family, or your community. You can find good references from helpers working in your friend’s house, or check with a neighbour on his/her experience with a particular placement agency, or find if relatives of other helpers are seeking work too.
Shortlist on reliable Placement Agencies based on Recommendations: While in the capital alone more than 2,000 placement agencies are operating, only a handful are registered with the government. Before spending an exorbitant agency fee on an unknown operator, check with your friends and neighbors first to find good recommendations (based on their experiences).
Verify Credentials: It is important that you verify the identity and age of the applicant. Make sure they show you original documents of at least one of these- Aadhar card, voter Id, photo Ids issued by Post offices, Govt. ID cards issued by Gazetted office/tehsildar or by Village Panchayat head.
Job Description: Determine clearly what the job/s position entails and what your expectations are. (e.g.: cleaning, laundry or driving, or taking care of children/elders). It is also important that you are thorough and clear in describing the available position in terms of – number of hours required to work, duties and responsibilities, salary, holidays, any added benefits such as – medical expenses, recreation etc., or house rules such as usage of phone, visits etc.
Give clear instructions: If you are hiring a live in house help, show the help her accommodation. Also, talk about when she can use the kitchen and other communal areas of the house, and meals that will be provided etc. Also be aware of any prevalent medical issues.
Retention — The Hard Part
Once your new employee is in the door you need to keep them, remember, the demand in this segment is good.
Fair Wages and Working Hours. Should we make domestic workers’ wages fair, limit their working hours, entitle them with holidays and days off, protect their occupational health and safety, we go a long way in ensuring they are reasonably satisfied working for us.
Treat them in a way you want to be treated. Rising above social identities, classes, faith or criticism, it is only correct to treat your house help in a way that you would want others to treat you.
Recognition and Care. Recognize, time to time the hard work they put in everyday, esp. if you ask them to work longer hours, for instance in a party.
Help their Situation: Acknowledge their situation in life, and try to help in making it better. For instance, if a maid is getting married, you can help find her husband an employment opportunity or accommodation close to your place. Or financially you could extend assistance by taking care of school expenses of their kids. In case one of them falls ill/meets with an accident, you can help cover their medical expenses. Also you can encourage them to educate their kids, or find an NGO who can get their kids admitted in better schools. There are many many ways to make their life better.
Above all, a symbolic unlocking of household workers from their difficult plight, will make sure that your home is staffed with trustworthy and hardworking helpers.