4 Common Domestic Helper Problems and How to Overcome Them

(English version followed by Chinese version)

Issues can sometimes arise and complicate your relationship with your domestic helper. If they have not promptly been dealt with, they can end up deteriorating your relationship with your helper. Here are some of the most common problems you can face and a few tips to overcome them.

 

Problem 1: You are not satisfied with your domestic helper’s work

There might be various reasons why you are not satisfied with your helper’s work, causing you to feel frustrated and even angry. Sometimes, it is because she does not clean the house as thoroughly as you would like, or because she lets the grocery out on the kitchen counter for too long instead of storing them where they belong or because you have reasons to believe that your children are not being well cared for or even neglected, etc.

Our advice:

Have a talk with your helper to frame the issue and understand why she is not performing as you would want her to and take adequate measures to solve the problem.

  • Be clearer as to what you are expecting of her. If she is underperforming because she does not understand your guidelines due to a language barrier, repeat instructions several times, write them down for her if necessary and encourage her to take language classes.
  • If she is not as competent as advised, allow her time to improve some of her skills i.e. through classes or training. Being patient indicates that you are willing to make this relationship work. However, be firm and make it clear that you have expectations and let her know that termination is not off the table should those expectations not be met after a reasonable amount of time or should she give you no reason to believe that she is committed to doing better.
  • Try to understand why she lacks interest in certain tasks. If she is not keen on improving her performance, make it clear that termination will eventually be your only resort left.
  • If you find out that she is underperforming because she is tired, sit down with her and review her work schedule. E.g. if she is tired because she is the one taking care of your toddler who cannot sleep through the night, you could decide to implement night shifts or even sleep train your baby.
  • Should you be asking too much of her by setting unrealistic goals for her to attain, review them and ensure that you set clear and realistic goals, and reduce her workload if necessary. Create a space for open dialogue and ensure that you give your helper regular feedback on her work and encourage her to share feedback too.
  • Your domestic helper might be distracted which could prevent her from focusing on her work. In some cases, she might just be brain-scattered. Talk to her to understand what may be going on, remind her of her responsibilities and let her know that you expect her to pay more attention to her work or, if not, measures will have to be taken.

Our advice for employers-to-be:

To prevent this scenario from unfolding, be clear and firm about your expectations during the screening phase of the hiring process so both parties can know what they are in for.

 

Problem 2: Your domestic helper is being dishonest

Dishonesty comes in various forms i.e. your domestic helper not telling the truth or stealing from you. While duplicity and abuse of trust can certainly be real, other factors can be at play:

  • It might just be that your helper does not understand your guidelines because of her limited language skills;
  • It can be due to a cultural difference. In some cultures, it is considered respectful not to ask any questions and agreeing is the most appropriate thing to do.
  • You might be spotting certain objects in new locations around the house or be under the impression that they do not belong here or there, prompting you to be suspicious and question your domestic helper’s honesty.

Our advice:

  1. Be patient. If that’s a cultural matter, it might be necessary to repeat several times that it is absolutely fine for her to ask questions when she does not understand what it is that you are expecting from her. If you don’t find an object anymore, you may find it again in the coming days.
  2. If that is due to a language barrier, make sure to repeat instructions on various occasions, slowly, and write them down for her if necessary and/or recommend that she takes a language course.
  3. If you find out that she is actually lying to you, sit down with her and make it clear that this is not a behaviour you condone. Let her know that if she keeps deceiving you, this will be a serious deal-breaker.
  4. Stealing is a serious misconduct and an abuse of trust. You should never accuse someone of stealing without evidence. Instead, ask your domestic helper if she knows anything about the missing or misplaced If you are sure that your helper has something to do with it – and only then – the best attitude to adopt is threaten to call the police – which might get her to return any stolen items – and give her a chance to explain herself. Some employers decide to install CCTV to monitor their helpers; while it can surely dissuade from stealing, it can backfire and negatively impact the relationship.

 

Problem 3: You are afraid that your domestic helper might get pregnant

This is a common cause for concern for many employers who fear being left high and dry without any support should their helper get pregnant at some point during their employment. While it is understandable that employers in such circumstances might feel helpless, you must keep in mind that your helper’s reproductive choice and sexual health are private matters.

Our advice:

  1. If this is putting you in distress, it can be a good thing to initiate a conversation on the subject with your domestic helper – only and only if – she seems open to it. It might enable you to put your mind at ease – who knows, you mind end up finding out that she does not even want to have a child. It could even benefit your domestic helper should she have any questions regarding contraception or sexual health for instance. In such case, you should recommend that she sees an OB-GYN for further information.
  2. Should your helper decide to have a child, you need to accept that it is her right. Pregnancy or fear of a pregnancy of a domestic helper should never be a reason for dismissal and is punishable by law. Moreover, it is unacceptable to impose any contraceptive method on your domestic helper. Domestic helpers – similarly to workers in any other sector – are entitled to their reproductive rights.
  3. If your helper is pregnant, the best thing to do is discuss with your domestic helper as early as possible so both of you can make arrangements and come up with a contingency plan. In this case, you may want to plan to hire a part-time helper during her maternity leave.
  4. Some employers choose to opt out of hiring young candidates. Nevertheless, it is highly discriminatory and this measure does not guarantee that the ones who make the cut won’t have children at some point during their employment with you.

 

Problem 4: Your child is too attached to your domestic helper

Children can easily get attached to those individuals they spend a lot of time with and are comfortable with. While it is a good thing for your child to bond with your domestic helper, as a parent, it might be difficult to accept that your little one is connecting with someone else. Feeling hurt, ignored or even jealous are legitimate feelings. Sometimes, you might even be under the impression that your child just prefers your helper. While this certainly isn’t true, the whole situation might create tensions.

Our advice:

  1. Try to spend as much time as possible with your child by allocating ‘private time’ moments to share with them. Ensure that you are the one spending time with them when you are home. You might want to discuss this with your helper and agree that when you are around, you will be the one taking care of the feedings, changing and bathing them, tucking them into bed and playing with them.
  2. Do not hesitate to share your concerns with your domestic helper. No matter how painful it might be, being mad at your helper won’t do any good – after all, it means that she is taking good care of your child. Instead, bring up the topic and tell her how it makes you feel and discuss the solutions you could find together to overcome the situation. She may be a mother too and surely won’t have any trouble putting herself in your shoes.

You faced similar issues or you are looking for tips to overcome another problem we have not list in this article? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or directly on our Facebook Page HelperChoice Employers!

 

4種常見外傭問題及克服的方法

這些問題有時會令你同外傭的關係變得複雜。如果問題沒有得到及時解決,最終會導致你和外傭關係惡化。這裡是一些最常見的你可能會遇到的問題和解決問題的小竅門。

 

問題1:對你的外傭工作不滿

可能你有各種對外傭工作不滿的理由,使你感到沮喪甚至生氣。有時候,這是因為她沒有像你所希望的那樣打掃房間,或者是因為她把各種雜物放在廚房櫃台上太久而沒有把它們放回原處,或者因為你有理由相信你的孩子沒有得到很好的照顧甚至被忽略了等等。

我們的建議:

和你的外傭討論一下這個問題,以及瞭解她為什麼不按你的意願去做,採取適當的措施去解決問題。

  • 更清楚表達你希望她怎樣做。如果她因為語言障礙而不能理解你的指導,那麼重覆幾次說明,必要時給她寫下來,並鼓勵她參加語言課程。
  • 如果她達不到所要求的能力,那麼就容許她花時間來提升她的一些技能,例如通過課程或培訓。對她有耐心表明你願意維持這工作關係。但是,你要堅定並明確你有期望,並讓她知道如果在合理的時間內不能達到這些期望,或者她證明不到她有決心做得更好,你就會終止合約。
  • 嘗試去瞭解為什麼她對某些任務缺乏興趣。假如她不想表現得更好,那麼和她明確表示合約終止將是你唯一的選擇。
  • 假如你發現她表現不佳是因為她太累了,和她一起坐下來並檢查一下她的工作安排。例如她是為了照顧你整晚不肯睡覺的孩子而感到疲倦,你可以決定實行夜班或甚至對你孩子進行睡眠訓練
  • 萬一你對她提出過高的要求或為她設定不切實際的目標,檢討一下並確定你制定明確和切合實際的目標,必要時減少她的工作量。創造一個開放對話的空間和確保你定期對她的工作做出反饋,並鼓勵她也分享反饋。
  • 你的外傭可能被一些事分散注意力而妨礙她專注工作。在某些情況下她可能只是注意力不集中。和她交談以瞭解可能發生的狀況,提醒她自己的職責和讓她知道你希望她更專注她的工作,否則將不得不採取措施。

我們給打算請新外傭的僱主的建議:

為了防止這種情況發生,在招聘過程的篩選階段就要明確和堅定你的期望,這樣雙方都知道他們的期望。

 

問題2:你的外傭開始不誠實

不誠實有各種表現,例如你的外傭沒有告訴你實情或有偷竊行為。欺騙和失信的行為排除了這些因素,才能被證實是真正發生:

  • 因語言表達能力有限,有可能是你的外傭沒有明白你的指示;
  • 可能是由於文化差異。在某些文化中,人們認為尊重別人是不應該問任何問題的,同意是最合適的做法。
  • 你可能會在房子周圍的新地方發現某些物品,或是你已留下印象,它們應該放在這裡或那裡,導致你多心和質疑你外傭的誠信。

我們的建議:

  1. 要有耐心。如果這是一個牽涉文化差異的問題,你可能需要重覆提醒她當她不能明白你期待她需要做什麼的時候,開口問是沒問題的。如果你再沒有找到物件,或許過幾天後會發現的。
  2. 假如是語言障礙的原因,在不同的場合重覆並慢一些說明你的指示,有必要時幫她寫下來,或者建議她參加一個語言課程。
  3. 如你發現她對你撒謊,一起坐下來明確表明那是你不能容忍的行為。讓她知道如繼續欺騙你,這將會是一個對合約嚴重破壞的行為。
  4. 盜竊是一個嚴重的不當和失信行為。你在任何時間都不應在沒有證據下指控某人盜竊。相反,假如你相信你的外傭和這事有關,問問她是否知道東西遺失或錯放了什麼地方。然後(只有在採取了上述步驟後),最好是警告她你將會報警,這有可能讓她放回所盜的物件和給她一個為自己解釋的機會。一些僱主用安裝監控來監視他們的外傭;雖然這確實可以阻止盜竊,但也可能適得其反並對關係產生負面影響。

 

問題3:擔心你的外傭懷孕

許多僱主都擔心外傭在工作期內懷孕,害怕沒有她的幫助而感到孤立無援。僱主在這種情況下感到無助是可以理解的,但你必須記住,你的外傭的生育選擇和性健康是她的私事。

我們的建議:

  1. 如果這讓你感到苦惱,最好的做法是和你的外傭由一開始就討論這個問題,前提是她願意討論這個話題。這樣可能會讓你安心下來 – 誰知道呢, 最後發現她你可能甚至沒想過要一個小孩。假如她想問關於避孕或性健康的問題,這次討論就正好對你的外傭有幫助。在此情況下,你應當建議她看一個婦科醫生以獲得進一步的知識。
  2. 如果你的外傭決定要一個孩子,你必須接受,因為這是她的權利。外傭的懷孕或害怕外傭懷孕絕不能成為解僱的理由,否則會被依法懲處。此外,強迫外傭用任何的避孕方法都是不可接受的。外傭和其他工作者一樣享有她們的生育權。
  3. 如果你的外傭已懷孕,最好是盡快與她進行討論,這樣雙方可以做些安排和提出一個應急計劃。在這種情況下,你可以在她的產假期間計劃僱用一個兼職幫手。
  4. 有些僱主選擇不僱用年輕的外傭,然而,這具有高度的歧視性,而且這種做法並不能保證已經決定不再要孩子的人在你的僱用期間的某個時候再懷孕。

 

問題4:你的孩子太過依附你的外傭

孩子很容易依附於那些與他們長時間相處和令他們感到舒服的人。你的孩子與外傭建立緊密關係是好事,但作為一個父母,你難以接受自己的孩子與別人有關聯。感覺受到傷害、被忽視甚至嫉妒都是正常的。有時你可能會覺得你的孩子更喜歡外傭。儘管事實並非如此,但整個氛圍可能會變得緊張。

我們的建議:

  1. 盡可能多花些時間陪孩子,和孩子創造你們的「私人時間」時刻。確保你在家時和他們在一起。你可以與你的外傭討論這事情,讓她同意當你在的時侯,你自己負責餵食、更換尿布和洗澡的工作,帶他們上床和與他們玩耍。
  2. 不要猶豫跟你的外傭去分擔你的憂慮不管多麼痛苦,對你的外傭發火沒有好處 – 畢竟,這意味著你的外傭正用心照顧你的孩子。相反,提出這個話題並告訴她你的感受,並一起討論你能找到的解決辦法來克服這種情形。她可能也是個母親,一定不想遇到像你處境那樣的麻煩。

 

你在面對類似的問題或者你在尋找沒有在這文章提到的建議?請不要猶豫,於以下的評論或直接在我們的臉書HelperChoice Employers分享你的經歷!