Hiring a domestic helper is never easy. Domestic helpers can be invaluable assets but ensuring that you find the right one for your family is challenging in the best of times. During a pandemic, things become more challenging because travel for domestic helpers is not always permitted, so you may not have the same pool of available helpers. When hiring a domestic helper, you need to consider your family’s needs and safety. There are many things to consider when faced with hiring a new domestic during this time.
The timelines for requesting a domestic helper and being able to hire them to work in your home have changed due to the pandemic. Quarantine times (usually 14 days but up to 21 days in some country), testing, and travel restrictions can cause delays in start times. Additionally, new regulations requiring an undertaking can mean fines or denied entry of domestics if the undertaking is breached. The average timelines can be fast for local candidates or up to 18 weeks for those located in the Philippines, Indonesia or other overseas locations.
Meet virtually first. Rather than inviting them into your home or in a coffee shop for a meeting, meet virtually (whatsapp video, zoom, facetime…). This way, if you want to meet with several domestics before choosing, you will not be increasing the risk of exposure. If virtual meetings aren’t possible, consider a phone call or text messages (whatsapp, facebook messenger) as an alternative.
First Let your potential domestic know the expected safety precautions before hiring her. Ensure that proper handwashing, mask-wearing, cleaning schedules, and hygiene practices will be followed. We do not know others’ personal routines, so setting forth your expectations will eliminate any confusion. Likewise, if there are any rules for visits from friends (for children) or social activities. Most people are eliminating social activities for their children, and domestic helpers need to be aware of the parents’ preferences. Some outdoor activities may be okay, but the domestic should be sure before allowing participation.
Many families allow their domestic helper to travel wherever they want on their days off. However, during the pandemic, you must remind to your helper to be follow all the social distancing rules. Let your domestic helper know if you will restrict any locations or destinations. If she needs to go to these locations, there should be rules set forth to express the need and proper quarantining or testing before resuming duties.
Unfortunately, everyone gets an illness from time to time. Most of the time, they are simple colds or flu. However, with this pandemic, many of the symptoms overlap these harmless illnesses. Ensure that before hiring your domestic helper, she knows how to report symptoms and what steps she must take before returning to work.
Protecting your domestic helper has come to mean more than offering benefits or specific pay structures. Now, you must consider keeping her safe from the coronavirus while she is caring for your home and children. You will want to provide adequate space for her belongings to be kept separate from the rest of the family. Masks, gloves, and disposable cleaning supplies may also be suggested. Your domestic helper will often be doing the shopping and going out to pick up other necessities. She needs to be able to protect herself so that she doesn’t bring something into the house. Having a place for her belongings also ensures that she does not cross-contaminate your things with items from her home, though she is unlikely to bring many things from home.
While your domestic helper has been hired to help you, she also needs to be permitted to have rest time to deal with family issues (send money or buy necessary stuff for the family). While your helper may not want to leave to take care of something, she will often want to spend extra time contacting her family members or sending financial assistance. With the social restriction, the workers are losing a lot of “freedom” and most of them are staying at home during their day off, do not forget to offer the right time to take care of themselves. Also, your helper could contract the virus of no fault of her own. You should be more understanding when she needs a specific space to quarantine and time off. This pandemic is fatal for many people, and a rundown domestic will have a more difficult time recovering.
Many domestic helpers move directly from one assignment to the next. However, during this pandemic, many helpers are out of work (terminated, released for relocation or financial reason). While most of them try to remain here or nearby, some have returned to their homelands. For those who are available, the above timeline may apply. Out of work domestic helpers may mean that they are also at higher risk if they are staying in a boarding house or if they have been visiting many families in hopes of becoming their new helper. Some are on VISA extension, so their employment opportunities are even more limited.
If you need to hire a domestic helper during the pandemic, be sure to consider the above. When hiring the domestic, ensure that you follow strict protocols to keep both your family and the domestic safe.