HOME What to do when employing domestic servants
There are certain things to put into consideration when employing domestic servants especially these days that stories are rife of house helps killing their bosses, the children they were brought to baby sit, or ran away with money and properties.
Some of them sexually abuse children in the home, become inhouse informants to armed robbers and kidnappers, broke marriages and even engage in voodoism, to mention a few.
Domestic servants have become necessary in some homes as a result of the busy schedule of some people and also to provide support with domestic activities. While some people get their relatives to serve as their domestic servants, others get strangers.
When employing a domestic servant it is important to first screen and know the identity of the person, and also make enquiries about his or her character.
It is easier to know the identities of domestic servants that are relatives and their characters than strangers. However, even domestic servants that are relatives have been guilty of crimes committed by strangers as such it is important to know them well before employing them or taking them into your home.
Get domestic servants from registered agencies that have all their data; where they come from and their relative’s or guarantor’s contacts so that you can also go there when things go wrong. When you can’t do this because of the few registered agencies available in the country, ensure the person you employ has up to two guarantors with verifiable identities and records who you can easily meet.
Also make efforts to know some relatives or people close to the person you are employing. Particularly those who live in the city or town you live.
Some people only know the tribe or name of the state of their cook, driver or gateman. They don’t know the names of their villages, addresses or names and addresses of any of their relative or friends. How then do you trace them when they abscond or something goes wrong?
Also it is not completely safe to just let some other person’s domestic servant bring in another for you to employ. When you want a gateman for instance you should not simply employ one because your neighbour’s or colleague’s gateman recommended them or brought them to you, neither should they act as the only people you know around them. You need to make extra checks or better still go for corporate guards.
Secondly, do not employ people who come from employment agencies, cities, villages or neighbourhoods that are far from where you live. This way you, your relatives and friends will be able to make regular background checks on them and easily reach out to their guarantors, relatives or the third parties that recommended them.
It is not wise for someone who lives in Abuja, for instance, to employ a nanny from Lagos or Benin Republic and then entrust a child in her care except you know them or people around them very well.
A law enforcement officer who wants to remain anonymous also recommended going to police stations to find out if the person you want to employ has committed any criminal offence in the past.
Another important thing to do is to carry out health or medical tests on the domestic servant.
According Miss Joy Ndieli, a nurse, some of them may have one communicable disease or the other or medical conditions that may make it unwise to employ them to do the jobs you want them to do in your house. You also need to ensure that you will be giving proper medical care to them while they are in your employment.
You must not employ any one below age 18 as your domestic servant. The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) law (as amended 2005) has criminalized the procurement of under-aged persons as domestic servants outside their family circle as child domestic labour contributes to trafficking in persons.
The law specifically provides that no child (persons under the age of 18 years) should be employed as ‘child Domestic’ outside his or her family environment. The same provision is also captured in the Child Right Act and in the Labour Act, cap 198 law of the federation, 1990.
People who employ children risk going to jail for five years, also, if you employ a child to do work that is so tedious that it will adversely affect his physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, you risk going to jail for another years.
National Coordinator of Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation (WOTCLEF), Mrs Veronica Umaru also said the Child Rights Act is very clear on who a child is and it states that no child should be employed to work in any capacity outside his or her home and there is punishment for the practice.
“In some instances, the children have already been trafficked before engaging them in child labour. Maybe that child has been trafficked from the rural area to the urban centre and the child is now forced to do domestic work. That is exploitation and child labour which are all criminal activities and the law prohibits that,” she said.
Finally, be prepared to treat your domestic servants well, this endears them to you and make them like members of your own family. Meanness and maltreatment brings out their bad sides.
And when you employ domestic servants make efforts to be vigilant and observant. Because some domestic servants act good before their bosses and turn to something else, when they are not around. Also watch out for your children’s reactions towards them.