Hiring during COVID
Hiring a domestic worker during COVID? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
What do we need to talk about?
We all want to stay safe, and to do that we need to work together. To help you and your employee build a working relationship where both feel safe and comfortable working together, we have prepared a template bilingual agreement.
This agreement can be found here: Bilingual Agreement for Domestic Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Is it safe to hire a domestic worker at this time?
I wish we had an easy answer for you, but in this time of uncertainty, changing conditions, we are each going to have to make our own choices based on current facts as well as our own comfort levels.
Some suggestions, what guidance is your city providing? What level of health risk exists in both your and your workers’ household? What support system and resources do both you and your worker have if someone gets sick?
Our worker takes public transportation and I’m not sure what to do.
Discuss together each transportation option available – taxi, Gojek, car pool, bus and MRT…
Take into consideration the social distancing potential for each and what supplies may be needed to ensure safety.
If you ask your employee to use a more expensive means of transportation, consider providing a travel stipend to the worker.
Be flexible with the work hours to avoid rush hour if taking public transportation.
I’m not sure who our worker sees in her free time. How do I navigate the delicate conversation around exposure to individuals outside our household?
We all need to balance transparency on risk of exposure as well as give each other privacy and agency over our own choices.
Start out the conversation by sharing who you have been exposed to and what measures you’re taking in those instances. Have you gone over to a friend’s home and allowed your children to play together? Be honest and see how your worker feels about this level of exposure. Then ask her who she has seen- followed by a discussion of future plans.
We’ve never made a written agreement before. How do I do that?
It’s never too late to create a contract between you and your worker. You can use our sample contract as a starting point and make any necessary revisions. Our template is available in both English and Indonesian.
After completing the standard contract, also fill out our Bilingual Agreement for Domestic Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic, which has important information and joint commitments on staying healthy in the current circumstances. Be sure to print two copies and sign, or fill out and sign digitally and email a copy to your worker. Get the templates for the contract here.
What benefits should I provide considering the circumstances?
We recommend committing to paid time off if anyone is exposed to, or experiences symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.
Optimal safety levels can only be achieved if you and your employee are honest, and one way to support that is by ensuring paid leave in these instances.
Both of our kids are home now, which means more work for our employee. In a perfect world, we would provide additional compensation to our worker but our income has also been impacted. What is fair?
Extra work should be compensated but we are all hurting right now in our own ways. This is an instance where open conversation and creativity goes a long way. Consider reducing hours to be able to pay at a higher rate, provide extra paid days off, cover other expenses like transportation which was mentioned above, and discuss what responsibilities you can take off the workers plate.
I’ve asked my nanny to change her clothes and take her temperature upon arrival. How do I maintain this practice everyday?
Whatever safety measures you take in your household- all should take together. If you’re asking this of the nanny – each member of your household should also take your temperature daily and commit to a change of clothes for equivalent public exposure. And make this daily ritual as easy as possible! Provide a secure and private area for the worker to change and a space for her to leave extra clothing if she’d like or cover the costs for the clothes the nanny will be using at your home. Keep an extra thermometer with alcohol to sterilize nearby.
What equipment can I provide to support everyone’s safety?
In order for your employee to work safely in your home, they will likely need access to a mask and gloves, ideally multiple sets.
Consider your situation and whether they will also need a gown, goggles, or other equipment to work safely. Your employee should be protecting themselves on the way to and from work as well.
Do you and your employee have the same understanding of what social distancing means?
People are interpreting “social distancing” in a variety of ways. You may be cloistered in your house while your neighbors are visiting the playground or seeing friends from six feet away.
If you have expectations about how the people who come into your home understand and practice social distancing, this is an important conversation to have.
I don’ think I will be able to continue employing our worker, what shall I do?
This is a time of uncertainty for all of us, and communicating with your employee, and developing clear ongoing expectations for what’s next can help ease the burden for both of you. Here’s how you might talk about that.
- “I want to talk with you about the economic realities in our family, and make sure that I’m doing all I can to set you up for success in the event that our employment relationship has to change.”
- “Things are uncertain for everyone right now, and I wanted to make sure you know what might be ahead for our family so that you can be best prepared too.”
Here are further tips to help your employee find employment.