Un­wise to let foxes guard hen­houses

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - A LIVE-IN NANNY IN SHEN­ZHEN

was found to have a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness af­ter she at­tempted to wres­tle the 7-month-old baby from her em­ployer on June 29. Yanzhao Metropolis Daily com­mented on Thurs­day:

With hind­sight, it is clear there could have been se­ri­ous con­se­quences had her em­ployer not stopped the nanny from grab­bing his kid.

Although the nanny was suf­fer­ing from a men­tal ill­ness, the house­keep­ing agency that trained her did not di­vulge the in­for­ma­tion when in­tro­duc­ing her to the fam­ily.

This is rem­i­nis­cent of an ear­lier tragedy in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, when a nanny was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of start­ing a fire in the home of her em­ploy­ers that killed the three chil­dren she was em­ployed to care for, as well as the mother. The sus­pect’s gam­bling ad­dic­tion and re­sult­ing debts, which are be­lieved to have reached break­ing point, were not known to her em­ploy­ers, although the agency had been no­ti­fied of this by her pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ers.

In Shen­zhen, house­keep­ing agen­cies are re­port­edly not re­quired to screen out ap­pli­cants with a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness, hence they might be tempted to with­hold such rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion from their cus­tomers.

There is nei­ther any reg­u­la­tion nor a depart­ment specif­i­cally de­signed to man­age the house­keep­ing ser­vice agen­cies, cre­at­ing a su­per­vi­sory vac­uum fraught with po­ten­tial risks.

With an es­ti­mated la­bor shortage of nearly 200,000, China’s house­keep­ing mar­ket reached 1.6 tril­lion yuan ($240 bil­lion) in 2016 and is ex­pected to grow rapidly as the de­mand for house­hold staff grows. Laws and reg­u­la­tions are there­fore needed to rein in the boom­ing busi­ness and de­fend the law­ful rights of cus­tomers.

How much in­for­ma­tion agen­cies should ob­tain about the staff on their books, and how much should be passed on to the fam­i­lies em­ploy­ing them, and what cer­ti­fi­ca­tion house­keep­ing agen­cies should have should be clearly set out. Fa­vor­able poli­cies that sup­port the re­cruit­ment and train­ing of prospec­tive house­hold staff need to be in place to keep un­qual­i­fied ap­pli­cants at bay.

The poor man­age­ment of house­hold staff mer­its vig­i­lance.

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