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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pinoy OFW - How to Be a Good Employer to Domestic Helpers

Domestic helpers are instrumental in the lives of employers.

We hire them to buy time spent on cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cooking food and tending to our children while we work, make money and save for the future. But in many occasions, many of us employers fail to recognize this role domestic helpers play. We hear news about unpaid wages, long working hours, lack of food, rest or time for recreation. Let us remember that domestic helpers are human beings too (in case some of us forget that and treat them as slaves like donkeys). Acknowledging their work promotes healthy relationship between employers and helpers.

1. Make them feel at home

Since we’ve chosen them from perhaps dozens of other candidates, we must have found something good in them: experience in their field of work, good referral reports, expertise in cooking or child care, and so on. In a way, they found their way to impress us, and that should earn them trust from us. As they enter our home for the first time, make them feel at home. Introduce the other members of the family, show them where is their room, and orient them their daily tasks. Tell them where is the nearest bus stop, where are the markets, or how to reach you in case of emergency.

2. Provide them food

We may not be very comfortable sharing the table with them but that doesn’t mean we don’t provide them food. Some employers allow their maids to spend meals together. Others provide food allowance in case the food on the fridge is only enough for the family. One can’t imagine doing the household chores on an empty stomach. If they’re food is somewhat different from what we eat (they eat rice, we eat pasta), let’s be considerate and maybe include their food needs in the budget or give them food allowance.

3. Provide them privacy

Employers need to provide privacy to helpers. A separate room, no matter how small but good enough for them to have a good sleep and attend to themselves, is ideal for every employer to provide to their helpers. Not a spare section at the kitchen or bathroom.

4. Exercise patience

During the first few days at work, helpers may still be grappling with tasks on hand. As they adjust, we need to exercise patience, even if we assume they already underwent training on how to operate the washing machine, induction cooker or get lost on their way to pick up the kids. Just like us on our first week at work, we feel anxious. That’s exactly how they feel too.

5. Promote good communication

Allow them to give you a call, even during your work, hours to relay important matters. When talking to them, we should allow them to explain and as much as possible, never raise our voices so as to intimidate them. We’ll soon find out that they’ll make fewer mistakes if we communicate with them regularly, than when they’re ruled by fear working for us.

6. Appreciate their work

Just as we appreciate getting compliments from our supervisors, domestic helpers also feel the same if we recognize their wonderful deeds. A simple thank you will do. In some cases our good performance gets rewarded with pay raise or promotion at work, but more often than not, domestic helpers don’t get such privileges. Nevertheless, appreciation for their work is important especially that it’s one of the few ways they’ll feel rewarded. At the end of their contract, and you part in good terms, be generous in providing them good references so they’ll not struggle finding a new employer.

7. Be flexible

Sometimes our helpers ask for favor such as switching their days off or going to the doctor when getting sick. This disrupts our routine, but giving them favors make them feel more loyal and often think of giving back — even if we don’t ask them. We can also do the same: ask them not to take their day off on weekends to take care of kids while we’re away for business trips or serve more dishes on occasions we have visitors at home and they’ll understand.

8. Give them security

Open a domestic helper insurance policy for them (it is required in many places). It helps them feel secure while they are serving you and provide assistance in case something unfortunate happens to them (accidents, death, incapacity to work). By following what is stated in the contract we’re not only a law abiding citizens, we are also not putting them at risk. Let’s avoid making them work for house of other family members or attend to our business as though they have a different working visa arrangement.

9. Teach them lessons in life

This may be beyond what we’re supposed to do as employers, but giving them guidance for the future is something they’ll appreciate and be proud of you in front of their friends. We can set examples in how to discipline our kids or balance our family life. We can teach them how to save money for their family and themselves, we can introduce them to stock market or mutual funds. In case they become excessive — like buying too many gadgets — we can advise them on how to remain frugal. Many years after they work for us, they’ll remember us with a smile and realize we helped them secure a better future.

Source : OFW