How to get rid of ‘the housekeeping’ maid
The most common reasons maids are sent home with their masters: They are too old, too sick, too infirm, too rude, too unruly, too messy, too stressed.
In other words, a maid is sent home for being too old or too sick or too unwell, too angry, too unhappy or too disrespectful.
But it’s not just maids who have their time cut short.
A new survey by HR consulting firm HCL and its partner, the UK firm TNS, has found that a third of all housekeepers surveyed were sent home without their employer’s permission.
A third of domestic workers surveyed said they were given “zero” or “very little” information about their rights, and only “a small number” of them had their employment contracts renewed within 14 days of leaving.
HCL’s survey of 3,000 domestic workers across Britain found that only 5 per cent of the domestic workers had their contracts renewed by the end of October.
Only one in 10 of those surveyed had received an advance notice of their contract renewal.
“A lot of these people are getting the job at a very early stage, because they haven’t had a chance to go through a fair bit of training, or they’re on their first contract, so they’re not really fully equipped to deal with this,” says Joanne Hickey, head of HR at HR consultancy HR & Associates.
“It’s quite easy for a company to say ‘oh, if you’re old enough and we think you’re capable of doing the job, we’ll let you in’, but then the employer’s not really equipped to look after them in the future.”
“The people who do this work are usually just going to be a stepping stone to somebody who’s older and less skilled,” adds Hickey.
“They’re not particularly suited to the demands of a housekeeper’s job.”
Many are in their twenties or thirties and are already overworked, overburdened, and unable to handle the demands, says Hickey of HR &s; Associates, who conducted the survey.
“Some of these are probably going to get on the streets to start a new job, or find a job that’s more demanding than the one they’re currently doing,” she says.
“These are people who have no training and have no confidence in the current workforce.”
The HCL survey also found that most employers do not know their rights when it comes to the right to refuse service, which includes refusing to provide service to a person based on their race, religion, national origin, gender identity or disability.
Many maids in the survey reported that they were offered less than a third the rights to refuse a service if they were female, African-Caribbean or Asian.
A majority of workers (69 per cent) said they felt “embarrassed” by the amount of work that was required of them and that they felt unable to cope with the demands on their time.
They also reported feeling “disrespected” and “uncomfortable” when working.
“Many of these workers are people of colour and people who are already struggling to find a good job,” says Hiccys boss.
“We have to look at how we treat these workers and how we accommodate them.”
In a bid to tackle the issue, HR &ing; Associates is introducing a new programme called Respectful Work, which it says aims to make its employees more visible and accountable.
“The issue of domestic service workers being left out of the workplace is not unique, but the extent to which it is affecting people is, and it’s really concerning,” says HR &ing; Associates managing director of HR and HR &assistants, Mark Dickson.
“This has been a long-standing issue for employers, who have long believed that domestic work is a valuable skill for people who don’t have a job,” he says.
The company also announced an action plan that includes creating a database of all domestic workers it employs and updating it regularly to help employers to understand how they can improve.
But not everyone is satisfied with the way the company is handling the issue.
“What we’re seeing here is a shift in the attitudes of employers, rather than taking steps to address the issue,” says TNS chief executive officer, Julie Brown.
“Domestic service workers are being sent home in the UK because of a lack of confidence in their skills and that’s not good for their employers.”
The survey also revealed that one in five domestic workers were forced to quit their job because of concerns about their safety.
One in five reported being physically attacked, one in ten reported being verbally abused and one in nine said they experienced sexual violence.
And one in six said they had had to change jobs due to a lack and insufficient support from their employers.
The report recommends that employers provide training to all employees on the rights and responsibilities of domestic work and that employers adopt a “zero tolerance” approach towards abusive behaviour towards domestic workers. The