Hey ladies. How’s the going? Must be tough, huh? I feel you. Truth be told, we are all going through the hard times and no one has been spared.
With the onset of the global Coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed. It’s no longer business as usual. This pandemic has hit close to our homes. And now even more than ever when the numbers seem to be skyrocketing.
My biggest issue during this period has been figuring out the situation with my nannies. And I don’t mean the pay.
As you know, I have three nannies. So, my issue has been on protecting my family from the risk of contracting Coronavirus and the nannies travelling to and from home.
Which brings me to this question. Have you had an agreement, either written or verbal with your nannies considering the whole Coronavirus issue?
It’s easier to protect your family when you have a live-in nanny but what happens when you have day scholar nannies?
Here are some things to reconsider when it comes to your nannies and the help during this pandemic:
Have a written contract
For most women who have employed nannies in their homes and under normal circumstances, they depend on verbal agreements without written contracts.
Now more than ever, in these unusual times of the Coronavirus pandemic, a written contract between you and your nannies is very important.
A verbal agreement will not protect you if problems arise. Your baby is precious and most important before your home, your car, etc.
I cannot emphasize enough that the person caring for your baby should be thoroughly researched, vetted and be legally bound by law to care for your most precious jewel – your baby.
What your nanny contract should cover:
Legal name of your nanny verified with legal identification such as ID Card
Nanny’s legal address
Nanny’s Medical form and clearance signed by a physician stating she is healthy and fit to work as a nanny. This will help you protect your baby and your family especially during this time with the Coronavirus.
Nanny’s Driver’s license if she is going to be driving your baby
The contract should indicate how much salary your nannies will be receiving. Include the deductions such as NHIF, NSSF etc.
The contract should also indicate the precautions that your nannies have to take in relation to COVID, when taking care of your family. This means that for example when they go out, they should wear masks. Additionally, you can indicate that they need to sanitize when they get back to the house and before handling the kids.
Sick leave and Personal days
This is the most important part of you contract with your nannies.
Under normal circumstances, your nannies should have off days. However, in my opinion, now is not the time to allow your nannies to go out and be reckless. If they are stay-at-home nannies, you can discuss with them about changing the terms of the contract and agree to strike-off leave days. And if there are, they should agree to be subjected to COVID tests when coming back to work.
Install video cameras in your home
For most of us, this goes without saying. However, it is important to have video cameras in your homes and make the nannies aware of them.
This can save you a lot of troubles and problems in the future with your nannies and kids in case something is lost, or your baby is injured.
Involve a lawyer
If you can afford it, it’s recommended to involve a lawyer. A lawyer will help you draft the contract and come up with the terms in line with the laws of the country.
Why having a contract is important
According to the Employment Act, where an employee is employed for a period of 3 months or more, the employer is expected to draw up an employment contract.
Domestic workers are employees like any other under the Employment Act. As such, it is important to be clear about how many days a week you expect them to work, any benefits or bonuses, rules regarding time off and compensation for overtime.
Having a probationary period allows you to dismiss your domestic worker early if it is not working out
Having a specific contract renewal period makes it easier to dismiss them as well if things aren’t working out.
Should you need to terminate their employment, you can clearly highlight the obligation(s) as per their contract that they did not fulfil, or any prohibited behaviours that they have engaged in, and give them a hearing before their termination.
Your domestic worker will therefore likely not be able to sue you for wrongful termination as you would have done everything with due procedure and transparency as per the Employment Act.
Should the termination be due to your operational requirements changing, you can also follow due process and not run the risk of being sued.
The Employment and Labour Court can award up to 12 months’ salary as compensation for wrongful termination.
Having a contract works to your advantage because should the matter get to court, the burden of proving or disproving alleged employment terms falls on you as the employer – without a contract, many of these conversations will be verbal, and your ex-worker will have a much higher chance of winning than you will – put simply, without a contract, the law is not on your side
Case Precedent states that in the absence of a contract, the employee’s word will suffice – this is because it is the employer’s duty to present them with a contract upon employment.
Your domestic worker has the right to join labour unions, and pursue legal help should they feel they have been wronged, without a contract, you leave yourself exposed to this.
In addition, issues relating to stealing of items or mistreatment of any children can be easily handled as the contract provides for all the information you would need to track their whereabouts – further to this, you can make clear the consequences of such behaviour and take immediate action when wronged.
It is also important to make your domestic workers job responsibilities clear prior to employment.
During these uncertain times, if you already have a contract, it may be a good time to review it in order to limit travel as the case numbers continue to rise, thus exposing you to much higher risk