Dear future domestic worker employer | KAYA FM

Dear future domestic worker employer

17 Oct 2018 FAMILY

By Motlagae Konyana

The government has neither the means nor the will to keep an eye on what you get up to with the domestic worker and cannot track how you treat them. Here are some points to ensure that you treat your domestic help with utmost respect and they are paid what is due to them.


Your helper is entitled to a day off once a week. Unless your family circumstances impose a compelling need for help on Sundays, this day should be off.  Moreover, these family circumstances should be communicated with your helper regularly.  Remember that your helper also has a family that she would like to spend time with.

It is suggested that you should give your helper a couple of hours to herself before she goes to bed, and also some time for meals. “This time is really needed, as I get time to myself before I go to sleep and prepare for the next day” says Kudzai Mbhere, domestic worker in Midrand.

This is especially important if your domestic worker is a stay-in; give her time to herself and be reasonable and not exploit your position of power and over working your helper.

Your relationship with your domestic worker 

Remember that you are buying a service, not buying or owning a person. Your domestic helper has her own rights, needs and, most importantly, she is a human being that should be respected regardless of age and social status.

And just because she can’t iron the way your grandmother has taught you doe not mean she is stupid. This may also include considering how you want to be addressed by the your helper.  Madam? Mam? Or just simple by your name.


This may seem basic that your helper should be able to eat when they are in your house.  However a lot of domestic workers have shared some horrifying stories about food and their employers.  How they are not allowed to open the fridge, eat the same food as them.

“I would prepare food for the family and I would not eat the same food as the family. I would prepare Pap without meat at times,” says Monica Mokoena*, who was a domestic worker in Johannesburg.

If your helper is a stay-in, you are required to feed your helper. This obligation continues if you yourself are eating out. This does not mean that you are entitled to make a deduction from her pay to compensate for this. Which brings us to this part:


You are obligated to pay your domestic worker for the work that she has done You may not make deductions for food, clothing, accommodation, bedding, use of your WiFi to help the children with homework or to compensate for broken glasses and lost forks.

January this year the annual wage was increased for domestic workers by the Department of Labour in December – a 5% increase on the 2017 rates. However there are different rates according to the different urban areas ensure that you pay your domestic worker accordingly.   Read more here:


Ensure that you have clear roles and responsibilities for your domestic worker to follow.  If there are certain boundaries, make them explicit. For example, there are households that don’t prefer the helper to clean their main bedroom. These restrictions should be clearly communicated.  


If you require your helper to be dressed in a certain way or in uniform, you will you have to provide a uniform or clothing allowance so that the helper is dressed accordingly. Your helper may also wear her own clothes. This does not absolve you from the obligation to provide gloves, apron or whatever protective gear may be appropriate.

Remember now that your helper is the primary caregiver of your children and your household in your absence, ensure that she is treated well and is well informed.


Read more here: