So you think you need a housekeeper?
You lead a busy life style, your priorities don’t include looking after the home and cooking, you have other things going on in your life. Perhaps you leave early, get home late and or too tired to worry about domestic issues?
It may be that your standard of living takes you out of the need to do domestic work, and why not, that after all is one of the perks of being in that situation. Perhaps you are a working woman, perhaps a man focussing on work and can afford not to get down to housework and cooking when you get home from the office. Perhaps you are not just too busy, but “can’t cook – won’t cook”.
It maybe that you have already employed someone you thought could be a housekeeper for you, but it just hasn’t worked out and now you need to find the right person for you.
There are, in reality, a whole host of reasons for employing a housekeeper – or indeed a new housekeeper – but once the idea has formed in your mind, how do you go about finding the right person?
And exactly HOW do we define what the RIGHT person is? And, where do we find them?
Now we are really getting down to the nitty gritty for there are a host of considerations which embrace the nature of your home: are you single, married, with children, do you require special religious aspects to the operation of your kitchen and food preparation, Jewish or Muslim, for example?
Do you entertain, what standard of food preparation do you expect, if you have children, do you already have a nanny? Can and will your housekeeper work hand in hand with your nanny to look after the children when she is either absent, or doing something specific for you that takes her out of the home?
It sounds potentially complicated, so how do we take away the complications and make the task simple?
Well, one route will almost certainly NOT lead to that result! And that is to put an advertisement in a suitable publication and interview a candidate or candidates before making a selection.
Are you sure you know what questions to ask, if you get it wrong, are you aware of all the legal and financial implications, what about salary, and PAYE deductions?
Enough! There has to be a better way and of course there is and the answer is to use a recruitment agency which has all the appropriate expertise and takes all these issues away.
The Graham Agency is highly skilled and experienced in resolving all these issues for you, with its principal Diana Graham and her colleague Karen Dawkins.
As Diana Graham explains, her agency operates by matching clients and staff through personal service. And they are the keywords: personal service.
“The Graham Agency is and has been for 26 years consistently committed to providing the highest standards of personal service to clients and domestic staff candidates.”
“We pride ourselves on understanding the unique requirements of each client through personalised contact, discussion and appreciation of their individual circumstances. We recognise the special relationship between clients and their domestic staff, matching not just individual skills and experience, but also acting as both catalyst and link to establish a rapport for mutual benefit”.
Diana Graham has a simple straightforward definition of a housekeeper: “Someone who can run a house, not just clean, but look after fine clothing, antiques, run errands, shop, etc.”
“It is very often the case that the roles of a housekeeper and cook are combined and this has to be determined at the interview stage. Sometimes clients employ a “nanny/housekeeper” and then only basic childrens’ cooking is required. However, if they employ a “housekeeper/cook”, then they require and expect a much higher standard of cooking,” she explains.
And what about living-in, vital to establish right from the outset? From experience, The Graham Agency has found that half of such housekeepers live-in while the other half are “dailies”.
Karen Dawkins makes the point: ”If there are children in the home, then the appointed housekeeper, whatever their other responsibilities, must have experience of looking after children.”
“For instance, if the client has a nanny, the housekeeper would be expected to care for and cook for the children when the nanny has a day off.”
Another valid expectation, says Karen, is that: ”If the employee is a housekeeper/cook, then that person would be expected to undertake the catering for dinner parties.”
The most crucial element in all this? “Undoubtedly,” says Diana Graham, “at the interview stage all the duties must be clarified. For example, exactly what is expected of that person, to establish aspects such as days off, salary, how many children and their ages, are there any pets, what type and how many, does the appointed person need to travel with the family, and so on.”
“Statutory holidays in the UK are 28 days a year which can include or exclude bank holidays. To cover such absences, sickness leave, etc, we can supply temporary staff to cover.”
Regarding specific religious/ethnic requirements in the kitchen, The Graham Agency’s own experience is that if the employee is not familiar with procedures, then the employer will educate them as necessary.
Lastly: salary, how much does one expect to pay such a person? From the experience of The Graham Agency, the pay range is between £350 and £500 per week, and typically around the £400 to £450 mark.
The Graham Agency has arrangements with experienced firms of solicitors and accountants which will take care of issues such as contracts of employment and PAYE issues for you.