What advice you must give your expat employees while hiring staff at home in India – By Preeti Roongta – Founder – Lexagent Expat Relocation

India now ranks amongst the top nations preferred by expats around the globe. The compensation, standard of living, lower costs, quality education, and booming economy are some of the reasons that make India rank high on this list.

India boasts of a rich and multifaceted culture across its 29 states. Relocating to India would require the expats to get acquainted with its diverse culture and with the unique flavours and challenges of life here. In this post, we are going to discuss hiring domestic staff as this is an area that your expat employees may be inexperienced in, back home.

It’s very common in India to have domestic helpers to assist you in your daily tasks. These domestic helpers can be hired for practically everything – driving, cooking, cleaning the house, washing clothes, cleaning utensils, cleaning washrooms, baby-sitting et al. Name it and we have skilled people to accomplish the said task.

Types of Domestic Staff

Before handing a checklist to the expats for hiring domestic staff, it is important to introduce them to the domestic staff culture prevalent in India. Depending on the hours of work they need to put in every day, different kinds of house staff could be hired.

  • Part-Time Staff: Part-time staff is usually hired on an hourly basis. The part-time staff is not be available at the employer’s beck and call.
  • Live-in Staff: Unlike part-time staff, the live-in domestic helpers are available 24×7. They reside in the employer’s home. Apart from the salary, the employer provides for their food, shelter, and medical expenses too.
  • Full-time Staff: The difference between live-in and full-time staff is that the latter doesn’t reside at the employer’s house. Full-time staff serves for the usual 8-10 working hours in a day.

Checklist before Hiring Domestic Staff

Hiring domestic help can be a tedious task for an expat but here is an essential checklist you should provide to the expat employees to assist them in hiring domestic staff:

  1. Background check

The domestic staffs are often people from the economically challenged sections of the society. They may be transient or migrants or otherwise hard to pin down to a permanent location. It is important to carry out a background check before hiring anyone. Advise the expats to get a police verification done for every domestic helper that they hire. This will insulate them in case of any fraudulent activity or in case of any problems with misbehaviour or insubordination.

  1. Address verification

Address verification will be done under police verification. It is always good to know where the domestic helper lives. This is a key checkpoint in case there is a need to connect with them for any unforeseen eventuality.

  1. Skilled enough to work

Ask your expat employees to ensure that the staff they are hiring are competent enough to carry on the tasks that they are being hired for. Checking references from previous employers is a good idea to gauge their competence. The current trend in India is that previous employers (if expats) will normally write a recommendation letter, that helps the staff in securing a new employment. Specific tasks may need more verification – for eg., if your expat employees are hiring a driver then it is important to verify that the driver has a valid driving license. Retaining a copy of the license for records is also a good idea.

  1. Hygiene & health check

A domestic helper will be sharing the expat’s living space. In such a situation, it’s imperative to cross-check their hygiene and health background. You wouldn’t want their family to be infected in case a domestic helper is bearing any communicable disease. It is a good idea to establish rules for their conduct while they are in the home of the expat -for eg. always wash your hands with soap before handling any food items.

  1. Bonus & Other Perks

In India, different regions follow different norms for providing a bonus to the domestic helpers. Usually, across India, the bonus is given around the festival of Diwali but in states like West Bengal and Orissa, it is given during the festival of Durga Puja. You would need to inform the expats regarding the custom prevalent in your region and that these norms are clearly communicated to the new hire. Similarly, define the other rules of employment – does their contract include a weekly off? Are they to be paid for transport? There should be no room for ambiguity, and for later discord.

  1. Age Proof

India bears an unfortunate stigma of child labour and the government has been known to come down heavily on those violating the rules governing this area. The truth is that many people lie about their age in order to procure a job. You need to warn the expats about this trend and ask them to verify the age of the person they intend to hire. This can be done by asking the would-be employee to show some valid government identification – the Aadhar card / PAN card are great options.

In the context of hiring help at home, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That’s what this checklist is about. Hiring a domestic helper in India is easy and convenient and many expat families have formed deep and lasting bonds with the domestic staff. Following these guidelines will help your expat employees have a similarly great experience.

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