Employment of househelp

Once you have found a person you would like to hire, establish a probationary period. It is recommended that one also prepares a written contract outlining all requirements, conditions, and expectations of the job and the person. It is wise to include even those requirements that you might assume are mutually understood such as personal cleanliness, punctuality or honesty. Salary, overtime pay, accommodations, benefits (vacation, medical, uniforms, school fees, etc.), hours, meals...in sum, all the basics should be included in the contract.

Most domestic employees work about 45 hours a week. Generally an extra month's salary is paid immediately before Christmas, and the normal severance pay upon departure is one month's salary for every year of service. If you are unsure about standard pay and benefits, ask your friends or colleagues. Be very clear in both the contract and in person as to what you consider grounds for immediate dismissal, such as theft.

You are legally obliged to register your employee with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the national pension plan that provides protection in the event of retirement, invalidity, and/or death. Staff need encouragement to register and make regular payments. To ensure payment, one suggestion is to ask staff to pay SSNIT themselves and present the receipt for employer portion and entire reimbursement , depending on your agreement.

Salary, review and incentive

Loans and advances of salary are common requests from your staff. Come up with a strict policy and stick to it; you can always ease up later if you desire. Try to offer some incentive for good service. Some people make monthly contributions to a fund that is turned over to the person only upon their departure and is forfeited if he/she is fired. Others guarantee periodic raises or contributions to something the employee really needs (e.g., a child's tuition, or a bicycle) or wants to do. Check with your friends as to different practices. A 13th month salary at Christmas is quite common or even expected.

Getting along

Introduce the new person to your other staff and explain to them what his/her job and responsibilities are. Give your other staff some indication about where the new person fits into your staff hierarchy and to whom s/he answers and for what s/he is responsible; try to minimize power and personality struggles.

Medical screening and Insurance

All staff should be initially screened for tuberculosis and parasites before employment (see Health) and at least annually thereafter. Consider providing relatively generous health benefits (e. g., paying for immunizations, doctor visits, contraception, and/or prescriptions), as your family will be among the primary beneficiaries. If members of your staff are healthy, it will help your family stay healthy.

There is a National Health Insurance Scheme you can encourage or assist your staff to apply for. Ask around for the office closest to you. Annual cost is about Ghc 40/year.

Security concerns

Household staff may come and go quickly. Never forget the security of your house, and that a person who once worked in your house will continue to know your house, your routines, and all the things in it as well. Do not be careless about leaving your valuables and money lying about and never reveal where your safe storage place is. It never pays to tempt people. If you must terminate a domestic worker's employment with you, do it with no prior notice, hand her/him severance pay if warranted, collect your keys, and show the person the door. You might consider changing your locks after you dismiss someone in case copies of your keys have been made; Also be very careful when you are preparing a move, as the chaos of packing could be a perfect opportunity for items to disappear undetected.

Training your staff

Regardless of their previous experience, be sure to train your household help in how to do things in your household. Assumptions may prove dangerous. Do NOT assume that they know how to operate all the appliances, how to safely and correctly use cleaning chemicals, or that they even know basic safety procedures (not leaving knives, potential poisons, and hot pots within reach of little ones).

Review explicitly and in detail personal hygiene and household sanitary measures (do it in writing if you are uncomfortable).

Always provide emergency procedures to be followed any time that you are absent, and it is a good idea to arrange for first aid training if possible.

A final word on training is patience. Give your staff and yourself time to adapt to the new situation, keeping in mind that, once trained, they will be able to provide a wide array of services.


Last modified on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 11:19