BY ENOCK MAKANGA
The incident where a maid was got on CCTV camera mishandling her employer’s child has raised a lot of questions and fear among parents. Below are the recommended procedures for engaging a maid. This should assist you to improve your security practices.
Finding and hiring a maid
Many people have found it increasingly difficult to find and hire house helps in recent years. It is very important that you go through the proper employment channels to find a helper. Extreme care must be taken when interviewing a househelp. Get references from people who know the her very well. They may include her close relatives but you must meet them personally to ascertain the information the maid has given you.
Speak to at least three adults before you hire. Ask the house help to give you copies of any personal documents. Develop a simple personal data form and have this information at hand. DO NOT stay with a maid without having this information, as should he/she shortchange you and your family, this information will help you greatly.
Managing your house girl
Once you have settled on hiring her, agree on the salary and clear terms of reference. If you’ve hired the maid to help you look after your baby, then you’ve given her a huge responsibility. You must keep a very a good relationship with her. Your maid deserves to be happy, to feel appreciated and cared for. If you want her to have your baby’s best interests at heart, then you must have her best interest at heart too and so you need to create a mutually beneficial relationship with her.
Building a good relationship
Once your new house girl arrives, try to make the relationship work. It is much less disruptive for your baby if she can have the same care all the time. Your maid lives in your house, but she is still an employee. In the first few months, you may want to keep things quite formal: she is the employee and you are the employer. Later, she may become an integral member of the household, but that is likely to take some months or even years.
In the meantime, think about your own job and employer: the terms and conditions that make it a favourable workplace (or not); the factors that keep you motivated and the little extras that make going to work a pleasure. Replicate these in your home setting for your maid.
Being a better employer
There are different ways and means you can provide your maid with working conditions that will motivate her to do her best for your baby and your family. What are her working hours? Will she be able to get eight hours’ sleep each night? Will she have meals and foods that are nutritious? Will she have any leisure time at all or rest days? Does your maid have good accommodation?
Reward good work
Everyone responds to incentives; think of you putting in the necessary to get that bonus. Similarly, let your maid know that if she does her job well, she can eventually expect more days off, a small cash bonus or a new clothes etc.
A clear job description
Is she hired specifically to look after your baby? Or will she, like many house girls, also be expected to sweep and mop the floors, wash the dishes, make the beds, iron and generally keep the house tidy? Some people also expect their maids to walk and bathe the family pet, tend the garden as well as wash and vacuum their cars. You must be clear about your expectations, but remember if she has to do too much, she may not be able to provide the quality care you want for your baby.
Job training at home
Even if you found your maid through a recruitment agency, or a friend, show her how you would like it done your way. Don’t assume she knows. Spend some time working together, so that your maid can learn routines and preferences from you, and you can see how she relates to your baby. Make impromptu visits at home just about one or two hours after you leave.
Key notes. Within your own extended family, be clear about who can give instructions to your maid, so that she is not overwhelmed by demands from too many people. This will also help your maid prioritize her tasks and responsibilities. If you discover any sign of dishonesty, pay her immediately and let her go.
If you can afford to install a CCTV camera, then this will be helpful to review footage once you are at home and decide what to do. Remember to install this system without her knowledge or before hiring otherwise the house help will change position.