Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tip of the Day: Hiring Domestic Staff, Including Chauffeurs, So You Are Not Victimized

Many expatriates find that living abroad provides an opportunity to hire domestic staff (e.g., cooks, maids, nannies, gardeners, drivers, etc.), particularly in developing countries where such staff can be hired very reasonably. 

That being said, there is a process that must be adhered to if you don't want just floorspace in your home.

Before rushing to hire anyone, though, please consider the following:

1. Fully utilize the resources that your embassy, consulate, international organization, NGO or employer may offer;

2. When I served as the Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO) at the US Embassy in Bangkok we offered US staff a free service whereby we we would absorb the cost of conducting criminal history checks on all Thai domestic staff;

3. Before hiring anyone, have a friend who happens to be a licensed attorney tell you what you need to know about the local labor law, as in some countries, hiring anyone means  that you might have cradle to grave obligations, so move cautiously;

4. Draft up a list of responsibilities you want domestic staff to fulfill and base their work product on the wage level;

5. You may be responsible for additional costs/withholding to be in compliance with the local labor code. In some countries, regardless of how long you employ someone, you may be responsible for severance pay if you discharge him or her;

6. Don't hire someone because they speak your language or present well;

7. Many criminal gangs prey on expatriates by trying to get someone on the “inside”;

8. Do NOT accept letters of recommendation at face value! You’d be surprised by the number of expatriates who hire domestics on the basis of such letters, only to have their home emptied upon returning from a long weekend; 

9. Determine whether the person you are looking for must speak your language and at what level for the relationship to work;

10. Interview potential employees in great detail and ask them for their address and a copy of their national identity card or passport. Also ask them how they can be reached by phone;

11. Ask all prospective domestic staff for the names of four credible employment references, including full names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.;

12. Contact employment references so you can discuss the candidates' work habits and whether they would recommend the candidate for employment. If you cannot obtain  three references to talk to, keep looking for other candidates;

13. Determine whether you can hire a domestic on a trial basis to ensure that he or she will adapt well to your home and family situation;

14. Of all categories of domestic staff, a family driver is critically important as drivers presumably will driving all family members. do not hire a chauffeur until the following has been completed:

a. Verification of chauffeur license being in good standing, a list of accidents and moving violations (if any) and corroboration that the license is in good standing;

b. Criminal history record traces; and

c. Determination that the chauffeur has no record re: sexual misconduct with vice and sexual crimes units; and

d. Pay for the prospective chauffeur's medical examination with emphasis on manuel dexterity and vision acuity fitness; and

e. For your own peace of mind, before the chauffeur is formally employed, undergo a road test with the driver to ensure that he understands all local traffic regulations;

15. Never hire any domestic staff member on the basis of letters of recommendation only;

16. Have a trusted bi-lingual local employee determine that the employers language skills are sufficient to fulfill their duties;

17. For both family members as well as the chauffeur ensure that comprehensive and third-party liability coverage is sufficient to to satisfy all medical expenses in the event occupants are injured; and

18. Add the chauffeur to the family's insurance policy so that he/she is fully covered.