Helpful Ways to Manage Your Domestic Helper’s Smartphone Use

A domestic worker using smartphone for call

Do you allow your domestic helper to use her smartphone during working hours?

Smartphones and social media have made it much easier for all of us, including domestic helpers, to be connected, but some employers see this as a curse. When it comes to the question of helper’s phone use during work, employers are torn between what is ‘practical’ and what is ‘ethical’.

Experienced employers often discuss phone use during the interview to make sure the helper understands their house rules. On the other hand, first-time employers may realise the smartphone issue only when their new domestic helper starts working.

A domestic worker using smartphone for call

The difficulty lays in different mindsets and ways of thinking: The employer wants the helper to have full attention on her household and childcare duties. The helper has left her family behind and wants to speak to them when they are available – as this may not coincide with when she is free. For the helper, using the phone is not a problem as long as she finishes her work. The employer, however, may see this as defiance and evidence of the helper not doing her job.

Sitting down with your helper to discuss phone usage during work may not be easy. How do you make sure you are fair when try to avoid your domestic helper using her phone excessively during work?

We have prepared you some house rule ideas:

  • No phone during work, except for breaks, so your helper will only focus on her work.
  • Occasional phone calls or WhatsApp messages during working hours, provided the domestic helper does her work in the allotted time.

Tell your domestic helper when she can use her phone

  • A work phone for running errands or emergencies. Providing your helper with a dedicated phone for work use can make sure she is reachable during work while limiting her phone use for personal matters.
  • The helper cannot be on the phone while taking care of your kids or parents. This may not be applicable if you prefer your helper send you photos of your children attending activities like play dates. However, remind your helper that she should not post any photos of your family members on social media without your permission.

Whatever your rules are, how do you enforce them? Unless you use CCTV at home to keep informed what is going on at your home – which is another controversial topic – you will never be able to ensure your domestic helper is never on her smartphone.

The fairest thing seems to be thinking about what you do when you are doing household chores and taking care of the children, then apply the same standard. This way you don’t deliver a confusing message to your domestic helper and it is easier for you to explain and adjust your expectations.