Domestic help is required in many households to look after children, help with household chores or to look after the elderly. When the parents of small children are both working, then their will likely be a need for a nanny. Hiring domestic helpers can be tricky, and finding the right candidate is important, so in this article I will outline some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Using hiring agencies v self procurement
There are many agencies that provide domestic helper services in Hong Kong, and these have a huge database of prospective aspiring candidates, both expats or locals. The alternative is to try to find a maid yourself.
Using an a reputable agency can make the process of hiring domestic help quicker and more efficient. A good agency should have cross checked all the information provided by the helper, and looked into their previous employment and why they might have left it. They will also be able to advise you as to the duties in which the helper has experience, and so this will make the process of choosing the right candidate easier.
Check out the references
Always ask a prospective candidate for references from previous employers. It is crucial to do proper background checks and screening to avoid problems in the future. This is an important decision, so it’s worth taking the time to undertake this procedure thoroughly.
When hiring domestic helpers in Hong Kong, it’s also useful to check whether they have any nursing certificates and associated work references, as well as if they have any insurance plans to meet any unforeseen circumstances.
It is also advisable to do a complete background check to be sure they don’t have a criminal record or convictions. Make sure that the references you are given are genuine, verify the dates, and get a clear understanding of the reasons why they left their last employer. You will then be in a position to come to a decision when you are in possession of all the facts.
Be Clear about Compensation
It is expensive to hire a domestic helper in Hong Kong. Before hiring domestic help, be clear about the median rates for specific tasks so that the compensation offered is appropriate. It is important to pay people the proper rates for their work if a positive relationship is to be established and maintained.
Assign Specific Roles and Responsibilities
When appointing a domestic helper in Hong Kong, it is important to explain to them clearly their roles and responsibilities. Cleaning the house, cooking, etc., are daily household chores, while caring for children is another distinct set of responsibilities. There are, however, many helpers who are willing and able both to take care of children and carry out daily chores, if compensated fairly.
It is important not to overburden your domestic help with work that is not practically possible on a routine basis.
Proper Training and Orientation is Required
Like every other job, domestic helpers require proper training and hands-on experience. Typically, the workforce engaged in this profession is not highly educated, although there are those who are graduates and those who have significant skills and experience in the field.
For inexperienced domestic help, training is essential. A newly-appointed domestic helper needs to be properly educated with regard to the needs of each family member and the manner in which chores need to be carried out around the house. For instance, some households prefer washed clothes to be dry cleaned rather than ironed in the house, while some clothes need to be washed by hand. These sorts of specific needs to be conveyed clearly to your domestic helper.
Clarify on frequency of breaks and holidays
Depending on your household requirements, you may be looking to hire a full time maid, or perhaps a part-time domestic helper. If you hire a part-time maid, then you need specify the times at which they should be available and the tasks that need to be completed within the allotted time. All tasks should be outlined clearly so as to avoid any misunderstandings later on.
This is also the case with a full-time maid, with the additional requirement of negotiating a day’s break every weekend or on a mutually agreed day. It is also advisable to provide a full-time maid with scheduled breaks throughout the day, giving them time to attend to personal requirements or to rest.
Hiring a domestic help is not be easy but with a little care and proper screening, it is possible to hire a good helper who is likely to become an important part of the household.
Edouard Muller is a French entrepreneur working in the Hive Sai Kung. He is the founder of HelperPlace – a leading platform to help expats to find the right domestic helper in Hong Kong.