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Think Twice Before Asking

A court case in the United States has highlighted issues which are relevant to all those who employ domestic staff.

In the case, a chauffeur to a former Swedish ambassador is suing for £1.1 million following a fall from a ladder while he was assembling a flat pack wardrobe for his employer. He was tackling the task single-handed, while it alleged, the instructions showed it to be a task for two people.

There are two lessons to be learnt here:

That asking staff to carry out tasks which are outside of their normal areas of responsibility carries its inherent risks if they are in any way injured.

Secondly, that whatever the task an employee is given, it must be carried out in a safe and relevant manner, with the appropriate assistance where necessary.

It is all too easy to say “Oh by the way, when you have a spare moment, can you do X for me, I know it’s not normally your job, but it would be very helpful”.

It can be very difficult for the employee to say No, and the responsibility for this lies with the employer.

Best advice, think carefully about what you ask staff to undertake and weigh up potential risks and consequences.

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