The process of hiring domestic helpers in India in recent times is not very organized as the sector itself is quite fragmented and unorganized. Though the presence of the maids is a great aid to Indian households as the women of the house are now able to move out for their career progression, the recruitment process is not very formalized and mostly depends on informal and casual methods. The situation gets more aggravated with the helpers belonging to the lower economic section of the society with most of them uneducated, illiterate and untrained. This makes the entire recruitment process chaotic where it is more on word-of-mouth and trust basis rather than being a proper well-defined manner of hiring.
The process of recruitment of 24-hours domestic helpers
- Identification of the domestic job roles
- the process is initiated by the job seeker or the domestic employers usually. The first step is to identify the role or the roles that one needs to fill up. What are the tasks and jobs that the new domestic helper will be required to do? It could vary from housekeeping and household chores to cooking to child care to special care need to caring for elders, pet care, etc. A formal listing down of tasks can help a lot but mostly not done. The issue that is currently existing with this employment in this sector is that the identification of requirements or need is not done with accuracy and exactitude. The result is chaos, misunderstanding and huge expectation/reliance on the maid from the moment she/he joins in.
- Source of hiring
- Direct Helper contact
- the household then generally spreads the word around in the social circles and neighborhood about the requirement of a 24-hours domestic helper or a maid. Such messages these days are usually posted on the WhatsApp group of the apartment or complex as well as information is sought from various acquaintances like friends, relatives, immediate neighbours, and even the manager of the society complex, security guards at the society, existing helpers who are already working in the house or with the neighbours, etc. The purpose is to get the contact or mobile numbers of the domestic helpers direct — those who are looking to get recruited as a full-time help — so that the person can call them and speak to them on a one-to-one basis without any intermediary in between.
- An indirect method comprising mainly of contacting a Placement Agency, researching online.
- another way around that most domestic employers go about when looking for a full-time domestic helper or maid is to take professional help by approaching a maid agency. People usually look online and take the help of the internet in this context. Or, they speak to their friends, family, and neighbourhood forums to find the numbers of credible domestic helper placement agencies. The concept of using professional help is slowly on the rise in modern times because the helpers from such agencies are usually perceived to be trained or semi-trained and also this process is supposed to be a lot more formalized than the other process. Paperwork and documentation, terms of the contract, etc. are all generally discussed between the agency and the household.
- usually, the agency will have the police verification and other relevant processes done beforehand; so, it saves a lot of time of the domestic employer but the process is still not professionally streamlined yet. Chances are high that the hiring through a maid placement agency will fetch a trained and verified helper but there is no guarantee per se. Hence, domestic employers should exercise caution while choosing the right agency. Very often, it has been seen that in India these maid placement agencies are run by people from the small town or rural areas where they source people from their native places. Many times such agents have not registered also. The other con of working with a placement agency is the additional cost that the employer needs to pay to the placement agent or the middleman.
- the selection process of a maid is typically quite short in India. The reason being the high demand for a 24-hours helper. The shortage of maids does not leave much choice with the domestic employer and the selection process is usually rushed up. Most of the times all required formalities are generally skipped through proper documentation and background checks are essential aspects that should not be missed. In India, this is not something that many employers do, especially when it comes to recruiting directly
- In the case of indirect sourcing, the selection process has some element of professionalism to it. There are choices and trials for 2 to 3 days and then the final selection. But, often due to lack to time on one hand and urgency on the other, the selection process is minimized and domestic employers make do with maids available with the placement agency — trained, untrained, semi-or trained. The good thing is that as per the contract signed between the maid agency and the domestic employer generally states that the agent will provide for 3 replacements within a period of 11 to 12 months, inclusive in their annual charges. This means to say that there are some options here though practically speaking replacements are mostly not immediate and agencies take time inevitably. The verification of maids is typically done by the agency in this case. In the case of hiring through placement agencies, chances are that compliance with the rules and regulations will be followed to a greater extent.
- summarize, the selection process at present, for a 24-hours helper is not blessed with too many choices for the domestic employer
- is at this stage, post-selection that the domestic helper is informed about the terms and conditions of the work. The job roles are explained, the salary, leaves, weekly off, duration of work daily, place of stay, etc. are informed to the maid. Under present circumstances, in case of direct hiring, these terms are communicated by the employer direct and verbally to the helper. In case of indirect hiring via a maid placement agency, the domestic helper is usually informed via the agency verbally or in writing. Between the agency and the helper though, usually, some form of written agreement and consent is sought to make the process formal.
- Joining & Start of work
- full-time domestic helper joins work and may or may not get a handover from the employer. It is automatically expected that they will be productive from Day 1. On-the-job training is provided but with much difficulty; in some cases, no training happens — maids are asked to get to work directly. These are challenging times for both the family and the domestic helper. Also, the expectation of the family is a big hindrance to training.
- the current domestic helper scenario, exits are mostly abrupt. The usual trend is that either of the parties can pull the string without informing the other party. There is no concept of the notice period. Many times, employers are taken by surprise when the helper gives the instant notice or does not even bother to do so. This is one of the biggest challenges of the current hiring system.
Challenges of this method of hiring of 24-hours domestic helper
There are many. One of the main challenges of this unorganized method of hiring a domestic helper or maid is retaining the person. Since this is an unorganized sector and the terms and conditions are not formalized, from the domestic helper’s side, the stakes are not too high. The domestic helper can leave the job mid-way for numerous reasons and sometimes, there are no reasons at all. For the domestic employer, however, it means that the entire process has to be redone again costing them precious manhours. Not to forget that managing household chores in the interim can also prove to be challenging. So, retention becomes a huge issue with recruiting a full-time domestic helper in the current scenario.