Getting The Staff

Sunday, February 26, 2017
Getting The Staff

Whilst technology may have made our lives easier, it seems it has, made them no less busy. Kids still need ferrying, houses cleaning, laundry washing, food cooking and stock replenishing. There remain the same number of hours in the day and let's face it - it's never enough.

We choose how much of our precious time we wish to spend on carrying out these jobs or how much we are prepared to contract out. Do you enlist the help of household staff; may be a housekeeper, a butler or a chauffeur? Surely they will just wave their wand and make your tiresome jobs disappear from sight.

Keeping you and your loved ones safe and free to spend time on things you would much rather wish to do. Sounds ideal doesn’t it? The reality is that hiring staff comes at a cost; I'm not talking just about the salaries that these individuals command; but rather the cost of having staff living in your house and watching your every move. They soon become a fountain of all knowledge on all things about you and your family; this is invaluable whilst there is trust and confidence. But if this breaks down, remember they are also the gateway to the inner workings of your private household. This could prove valuable to unsavoury outside characters.

Given the level of intimacy (which is heightened further if they are living-in) it is vitally important to have provisions in place to secure a happy home working relationship whilst at the same time fiercely protecting your family and interests if the relationship takes a turn.

Here are our top tips for a successful relationship:

  1. Correct Status: Household staff will usually be deemed to be employees and will therefore need an employment contract and their salary should be taxed at source;
  2. Rigorous candidate checks prior to hiring – as a bare minimum you will need a ‘Right to Work in the UK’ check, detailed reference checks from their previous employer and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check (basic or enhanced depending on their role). If you use a reputable recruitment agency – they are often able to carry out these checks for you (possible additional cost);
  3. Clarity of terms and roles: Be clear in what you need and what you are prepared to pay. Speak in gross annual salary terms only to avoid confusion. Discuss your detailed needs with your recruitment agency; meet and show them round the household. Ensure they meet all their candidates before passing them on to you and thereafter offer you a trial period to assess the candidates in your own household;
  4. Specialist contract of employment within two months of starting – a cribbed one from the office will not cut the mustard when it comes to protecting you and your family. Remember if you require additional hours, confidentiality or you are providing them accommodation, all these will need to be set out in the contract. Sometimes the contract will need additional agreements to provide fuller protection. Such as agreements to ensure they will vacate your premises upon termination of employment;
  5. Employers Liability Insurance against claims from the staff– you will need this from the outset in case of a trip or fall, you will want to be sure you have it covered. Investing some time at the start of the relationship, can provide you with the best chance of a longer lasting and loyal relationship; it can also relieve the stress when the relationship comes to an end.

Sofia Syed is a Family and Employment Law specialist


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