It was just like any other Saturday afternoon, Mr. Dike relaxed in his living room watching football with a few guests when suddenly his attention was drawn to the absence of his driver who had been sent to go and buy diesel about an hour before. One hour soon turned three still his car was missing and even worse his driver. He had employed him about a year ago and yet knew nothing of him except that he came to work every morning from somewhere in Ajah. His car now gone was never to be found again.
After months of deciding whether to get a nanny or not Mr. and Mrs. Thomas decided it was time. They hired a nanny through an “agent” introduced to them by a friend. Unbeknownst to them and indeed the agent another couple had just rejected the nanny after she tested positive for HIV test. The Nanny resumed immediately and six months into her new job is still yet to undergo a medical test by her new employers.
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Abdul was deep into sleep when suddenly woke up from pain he felt from a cold metal object pressed against his neck. He soon got tied up, his mouth sealed as the robbers began an operation that saw his employers robbed of all their belongings including cash. It was an ordeal consistent with frequent robberies in the neighborhood where they lived. However, something seemed strikingly different, the robbers new their way around the 4 bedroom duplex. Abdul had connived with the robbers to steal from his employers, as investigations will later reveal.
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These are stories some of us are all too familiar with whether through direct experience or from experiences of those we know. Domestic staffs are a “necessary evil” as most refer to them but is that an excuse to be careless about the way they are employed? Certainly not as most of them can be employed with a lot more reasonable care even if we are not in total control of their future behaviors after being recruited. Had Mr Dike simply decided to know where his driver lived perhaps things may have been different.
A HR consultant once told me that before employing drivers it is important to get an acceptable reference from them. One of such is from a religious leader or community leader in the neighborhood where he or she resides. It is an important step that is often seen as arduous by most who just want to employ quickly. “If one can take reasonable care in employing office staffs isn’t it more important to replicate such with domestic staff” he quipped. Ensuring that they have a valid drivers license and occasionally sending them to driving school is also one essential routine most fail to imbibe.
Nannies and house helps who work and live with their employers even deserve more scrutiny before being employed. Apart from ensuring proper reference is obtained from them background checks should regularly be made. Most of them come from villages and towns hundreds of kilometers away from their place of employment making such checks quite onerous sometimes. With lack of proper national identification in Nigeria verifying social security status of most domestic staff is nearly impossible.
As such, most should endeavor to recruit nannies and helps who live and come from neighboring towns to make background checks easy. In the absence of that then it may be advisable to recruit them from towns and villages familiar to them. For example, if you are from Amawbia in Awka, then getting one from that area is more expedient. Apart from mandatory pre employment medical test, Domestic Staff must also be provided with proper medical care. It is important for you to assess the medical condition of your to be domestic staff in relation to the job you want them to perform. No point employing a house help with a heart condition when they are expected to do the cleaning at home, wash clothes, cook and sweep. Most medical insurance in Nigeria cost as low as N30,000 per annum. With just N100,000 medical cost for domestic staff can be hedged without having to worry about spending more should the staff suddenly fall ill at cash strapped periods.
Domestic guards come from within and outside the country and are referred to employers by their kinsmen living within the same neighborhood. If your neighbor’s guard refers them to you then ensure that your neighbor is aware. Get them to provide a shorty if possible and preferably go for the ones with a family. In the absence of the above then a corporate guard may just be the best option. It probably cost N10,000 more but nothing cost more than your well being and peace of mind.
The principles highlighted above apply to most domestic staff however it is not exhaustive. If a corporate organization can take so much care before recruiting staffs why not the individuals who represent those organizations.