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Domestic Support

Hiring and Living with Domestic Support

Know-how article contributed by a first time expat who moved to live and work in Sri Lanka:

Domestic work is still a known form of employment in many countries for those who are part of the pool of unskilled labour. No doubt that the influx of foreigners provide more employment opportunities.

The treatment of the domestic worker is an emotive subject often sparking huge debate. I only wish to share my experiences with the hope that it be of use for those who may encounter the domestic worker/head of the household relationship for the first time.

To have someone take care of your personal needs (when you have had to do it yourself for so long) is certainly welcomed. It facilitated my time settling into the country and allowed me to concentrate on the job and I had been sent to do.

The relationship between you and your domestic help can become quite an intimate one. Unlike your work colleagues or members of staff (if you are in the position of managing a team) your domestic support is in your home and in your personal space.

You have to be mindful of how much of yourself is on view and keep an even balance in the relationship. Since you have people working in your home and handling your personal requirements you would feel inclined to treat those people as family members. At the same time you have to be careful and not naïve to fact that you could be taken advantage of.

Most foreigners will have help from their local Human Resource/Personnel departments who will guide one on how to avoid the pitfalls. I also found it useful to contact expats leaving the country whose domestic staff became available. At least you have a credit worthy form of reference.

It is up to the individual as to how close a relationship you wish to have with your domestic support. At the end of the day you must treat any employee fairly and with respect.

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